Cover Story


March 13 - 19, 2019

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille


MOVIE-LOVING Eman Mirza has been cast as the leading lady for the kingdom’s newly-opened cinema complex and hopes her new role will pave the way for other women to prosper in the entertainment sector.

After 17 years of tireless endeavours, promotions and impressing the management of Al Tayer Group, a family enterprise operating in various sectors including automotive, real estate and retail, she landed the part of GM at the state-of-the-art Cinépolis in Atrium Mall, Saar.

She is the first woman to hold the prime position in the kingdom’s thriving and expanding cinema industry and says the appointment was ‘a dream come true’.

 “Cinépolis is amazing and I’m proud to be a part of the team,” said Eman, 36, a mother-of-three who lives in Isa Town.

Cinépolis Global, the world’s fourth largest cinema operator based in Mexico, and Al Tayer Group, created a joint venture under the name Gulf Entertainment, headquartered in Dubai, and now run the regional business under the title of Cinépolis Gulf.

The company’s human resources department initially contacted her and suggested that she should apply for a post with the new cinema operation. Eman applied for the role of an assistant manager and was being interviewed by Cinépolis Gulf CEO Ashish Shukla.

He was more than impressed and told her he saw her as ‘a leader’.

“He wanted me to lead the team,” delighted Eman explained. “I was pleasantly shocked and humbled by his words and told him that I would never disappoint him.”

The new 13-screen cinema, which opened a few weeks ago, uses the latest big screen technology and includes a Junior Theatre with a covered slide from the top row of seats into a Jungle Gym below.

And its 4D E-motion experience has already had movie-lovers buzzing on social media about the ‘theme park-like experience’. This immersive theatre format allows an audience to ‘live’ the movie with motion seats and special effects such as wind, water, smell and air shots, all perfectly synchronised with the action on the screen.

“In Cinépolis, equality is important!” said Eman. “They don’t see ‘man’ or ‘woman’.

“They see a hard worker. We are all treated the same and are considered equal. My work and experience over the years speaks volumes about the policy. Now, I’m the first Bahraini female general manager to head a cinema. If you believe in yourself, work hard, dream big, treat everyone with respect and are passionate about what you do, then you can achieve anything.”

Eman’s starring role has already captured the attention of cinema-goers with many expressing their delight over the appointment, which she finds ‘empowering’.

“It is still new to people but they will get used to it,” she added. “Whenever a customer meets me and finds out that I’m the GM, they say to me ‘You, a Bahraini lady?’

“This is changing people’s minds and showing them that women can do anything they put their mind to. Women can be GMs and successful in whatever career they choose. Nothing is impossible because women are strong and capable of accomplishing great things. After all, behind every great man is a great woman!

“I also advise women to keep an open mind. For example, there are some that don’t want to start in sales but my advice is to not limit your choices because you can always grow in a progressive company. You may start in sales but you never know where your career will lead you.

“I believe woman can do it all and I would encourage them to follow their dreams. My dreams never stop!”

Eman started with a lowly sales position in the retail industry and once considered becoming a teacher. However, life had a different plan for her. She graduated in business administration from Arab Open University and took on the sales job determined to work her way up the business ladder.

She went on to hold a brand manager position at Al Hawaj Group, watching over seven brands, and was also an assistant retail manager for Al Tayer Group for Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Muscat and Doha.

“Every time I reached one goal, I began working towards the next promotion,” she said. “I wanted to learn, to grow and to make sure every client was satisfied. All my experiences have been about customer satisfaction. Working in Cinépolis is all about delivering the ‘best customer service’ and my knowledge and skills will help me to achieve this.”

Eman has faith that the new cinema complex will grow in popularity thanks to her team’s friendly and charming dispositions. And, as she puts it, she technically has ‘69 kids now’, her hardworking team and, of course, her own children Abdulaziz, 15, Mariam, 12, and Fatima, eight.

“My team often say that working here doesn’t just feel like ‘work’, it’s something they really enjoy and are happy to excel in,” she said. “They will always smile and say ‘hi’ to everyone. I believe we can succeed but it has to be together.

“All of us started here from scratch. We have all been training together from the beginning and have seen the cinema as it evolved which, in a way, has made it feel even more like home. We are one family. We all want to see the cinema flourish and grow just like any proud parent would!

“I also believe that we can succeed by being ourselves and I tell them to treat customers exactly the way they would want to be treated. Also, I advise others to never be ‘a boss’ but to be ‘a leader’. If I want something done, I won’t bark orders. I’ll ask them politely and with respect to help and I will work alongside them. That positive attitude and teamwork can make all the difference in the world.”

Eman would like to thank her children and her husband, Alaa Abdulaziz, a risk officer at Ahli United Bank, for all their unstinting support.

 “My husband tells me how proud he is of me and my children keep telling me not to worry if I am working late, that they understand and that all they want is for me is to rest when I am home,” said Eman.

 “It’s obvious that the traditional view of a female’s place in the work place and at home has rapidly started to change.

“Now, we have more equality and you can see women, who choose a career path, leading and managing companies.

“With the help and support of Shaikha Sabika Al Khalifa, the wife of His Majesty King Hamad, more attention and support has been given to Bahraini women, and Middle Eastern women in general, to empower them economically and socially.”

Cinépolis was founded in Mexico in 1971 and now attracts more than 338 million guests and 5,707 screens worldwide. Bahrain expands the company’s footprint to 16 countries. Cinépolis Gulf has plans to open complexes in Oman, UAE and neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

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