Middle East Film and Comic Con opens in Dubai despite coronavirus

Organisers have taken precautionary measures such as thermal cameras and hand sanitiser dispensers to help avoid the spread of infection

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The Middle East Film and Comic Con kicked off in Dubai on Thursday evening despite other events being postponed due to the coronavirus.

At the entrance, thermal cameras monitor eventgoers’ temperatures before they enter the venue hall at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Since 2012, the Dubai version of the pop culture festival has been welcoming film, comic book and video game fans through its doors, most of whom perform cosplay as their favourite characters.

Organisers decided to push through with the festival, which runs until Saturday, March 7, amidst growing worry about the spread of Covid-19 at public events.

Across the UAE, events such as Taste of Dubai, Art Dubai, DJ Mag Conference and Yogafest Al Ain have been cancelled or postponed.

The UAE has 29 confirmed cases. Worldwide, 98,385 have been infected, with majority of the cases in China. In the region, Iran has been hit the hardest with 3,513 people infected.

At Comic Con Dubai, organisers have implemented precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of infection. These include installation of hand sanitiser dispensers. According to Tet Bautista, one of the artists showcasing and selling his work at the event, organisers are also regularly checking-in on participants and their state of health.

He said that the thermal cameras were also present on Wednesday when vendors were setting up their booths.

Mortadha Jalal, a regular at the festival, said that he felt this year's Comic Con was "empty" compared to previous years and attributes it to fears over Covid-19. He said that around four or five of his friends decided not to attend.

"But they seem to be taking care of the situation... From what I saw yesterday, there was no need to be afraid at all," he said, adding that the presence of thermal cameras and medical staff have given him some reassurance.

As the festival opens for another day, Comic Con Dubai will feature Mena Massoud from Aladdin, Brandon Routh from Superman Returns, Carice van Houten from Game of Thrones and John Rhys Davies from Lord of the Rings.

* With reporting by the Associated Press