Gallery C

On Dusti Road
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Eerie Outdoor Theater In The Desert

By James Donahue

It isn’t there anymore, but not many years ago a strange outdoor theater, complete with 150 antique wooden folding seats, a giant cloth screen and a projection booth stood empty and deserted at the foot of a mountain, along Dusti Road in Egypt’s Sinai Desert.

The local natives say the strange cinema was built in 2,000 by a Frenchman, whose name has been long forgotten, who bought the seats and the projection equipment from an old movie house in Cairo and moved it into the Sinai.

The theater was located in the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, some 12 miles from the City of Sharm el-Sheikh, the administrative hub of Egypt’s South Sinai Governorate, located on the Red Sea. The smaller coastal towns of Dahab and Nuweiba are located nearby.
Over 35,000 people live in those communities, so the French investor may have calculated making a profit from his investment. But that was not to be.

There apparently exists some strange politics involving the Egyptian government and the Bedouin tribes who do not look kindly to strangers coming into the desert without permission. Nobody talks about it, but for some strange reason, no films were ever shown at this theater. No customers ever paid to sit in those seats.

They stood in place like sentinels for more than 10 years, capturing the attention of Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas, who shot various pictures of the strange theater. The pictures and the story went viral on the Internet.
Since then, someone demolished the old theater. The old wooden chairs remain smashed into pieces on the desert floor. The screen was destroyed by the elements long ago. The projection booth is also gone.
Had these things been cast in concrete, they might have stood for centuries, objects of curiosity to attract the tourists who come to see the other amazing things found in Egypt.