Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia's Red Sea International Film Festival postponed

The event was scheduled to take place in Jeddah between March 12-21

The organisers of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that they had postponed the event due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The festival, which was scheduled to take place between March 12-21, is due to be held in Al Balad, the the city of Jeddah's historical area.

It is Saudi Arabia's first international film festival.

The kingdom confirmed its first case of the virus on Monday and last week closed two of its most sacred Muslim shrines to foreign visitors. It has also blocked pilgrims from entering the country.

A statement from the festival's organisers on Tuesday night read: “Following the precautionary measures taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and with our primary consideration being the safety and wellbeing of our guests, staff and audiences, the Red Sea International Festival is postponing its inaugural edition, which is was scheduled to run 12-21 March, 2020, in Al Balad, Historic Jeddah.”

"The spread of coronavirus is a battle we all must face around the globe, and it’s with no hesitation that we are respecting the measures needed to meet the current health emergency," it added.

The statement said the decision was made “with feelings of deep sadness”, before reassuring people that the film festival would take place at later date. It added that new dates would be announced "as soon as [it is] feasible".

The organisers said they were "enormously grateful" for the public's support and understanding.

There have been a number of major cultural events cancelled in the region as a result of the novel virus. Ultra Festival Abu Dhabi, a music event that was due to be held at du Arena on March 5-6, was cancelled on Tuesday.

The event was going to welcome over a dozen of the world's biggest dance DJs, including Afrojack, Eats Everything and Major Lazer.