Pop culture events postponed or cancelled due to the Israel-Gaza war

The MTV Europe Music Awards and Fashion Trust Arabia Awards will not take place

Taylor Swift was the big winner of the MTV Europe Music Awards last year. Getty Images
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As the Israel-Gaza war continues, several events in the region and beyond have either been rescheduled or cancelled due to the escalating violence.

From the MTV Europe Music Awards to a design event in Beirut, here is a round-up of some of the events that have been affected.

MTV Europe Music Awards in Paris

The MTV Europe Music Awards announced it was cancelling its ceremony that was set to take place in Paris on November 5.

“The MTV EMAs are an annual celebration of global music. As we watch the devastating events in Israel and Gaza continue to unfold, this does not feel like a moment for a global celebration. With thousands of lives already lost, it is a moment of mourning,” a company representative said.

The representative added the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution for the thousands of employees, crew members, artists, fans and partners who travel from all corners of the world to bring the show to life”.

MTV said the EMAs will return in November 2024.

The Fashion Trust Arabia Awards in Doha

Initially set to take place in Doha on Wednesday, October 25, the 2023 Fashion Trust Arabia Awards have been postponed, with a new date not yet revealed.

“At FTA, our purpose has always been to support the talent of designers in the Mena region. However, we believe that, given the current situation in the region, it would be inconsiderate to proceed with our event,” the group said.

The annual event, held by the non-profit organisation of the same name, aims to amplify and connect Arab designers from across the world. Past attendees have included Bella Hadid, Janet Jackson and Poppy Delevingne.

Ajyal Film Festival in Doha

The 11th Ajyal Film Festival, set to run from November 8 to 16, has been cancelled.

Qatar’s Doha Film Institute said that it stood “in solemn solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” and decided not to go ahead with plans for this year’s event.

“At this time, we are grieving alongside the community within our region and are devastated by the staggering daily loss of innocent lives. It is simply not a time for celebration, it is a time for focused and intentional action,” the institute said.

Rather than hold the event, the institute added it “will be exploring new avenues to use our platform to expand the reach and volume of Palestinian voices worldwide”.

We Design Beirut

The four-day festival in Beirut has been postponed. It was originally scheduled to run from October 27 to 30 but has announced new dates of March 4 to 7. The event aims to showcase and celebrate design and creativity through a programme of showcases, installations, talks and workshops.

“Due to the recent tragic events in Gaza and Israel, we cannot fathom putting anyone at risk, in any way, shape or form. We also cannot consider celebrating our city at such a dark moment in time, when so many lives have been taken in such a brutal and unjust way, on all sides,” said Mariana Wehbe, founder and creative director of We Design Beirut.

“We had hoped that We Design Beirut would revive our country, and demonstrate the immense creativity of Beirut. A project we would invite you all to be part of with open arms.”

El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt

The event has been postponed indefinitely. It was originally set to run from October 13 to 20 before being pushed back to October 27 to November 2. However, organisers have since announced it will be further postponed without setting a new date.

“In light of the deeply distressing circumstances prevailing in Gaza, the management of El Gouna Film Festival has made the conscious decision to postpone the forthcoming sixth edition of the festival,” the organisers said.

“A charitable amount of 5 million [Egyptian pounds] has been donated to fortify the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, in partnership with the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development and the Egyptian Red Crescent Society.

“These measures resonate profoundly with the spirit of solidarity extended by the El Gouna Film Festival’s administration towards the Palestinian people and the civilian population of Gaza. El Gouna Film Festival has, since its inception, adopted the principle of ‘Cinema for Humanity’ as a core belief bolstering all humanitarian understanding values.

“The GFF management aspires for the resumption of the sixth edition, when the situation stabilises in the Palestinian lands.”

Events cancelled or postponed in the UAE

The Tanweer Sacred Hearts Festival in Sharjah has been postponed. Originally scheduled to be held from November 24 to 26 near Sharjah's Mleiha Archaeological Centre, the cultural festival aims to showcase ancestral arts and crafts with music groups Fanna-Fi Allah and Nawa Band set to perform.

Festival organisers said it would be "ethically wrong" to hold the celebration during this time.

"In light of the ongoing war, we find ourselves facing a moral dilemma. It would be ethically wrong for us to carry on with our festival during this time of mourning while people are suffering and lives are lost,” they said.

“It is with a heavy heart that we postpone the festival. Given the unpredictable nature of the current situation, we are unable to specify rescheduled dates at this time. We will share the new dates as soon as possible.

"We are fully aware that many of you have made heartfelt commitments regarding our event. We place our trust in your understanding and enduring support, and we pledge to reciprocate that support in every way possible.”

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, an annual conference organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism that brings global arts and culture industry leaders together for panel sessions, was set to begin on Sunday but has been postponed as well.

“We appreciate the understanding and support of all participants and stakeholders. A new date will be communicated as soon as possible. We look forward to convening soon to exchange ideas and identify ways in which culture can transform societies and communities worldwide,” Culture Summit Abu Dhabi posted on social media as well as its website.

Concerts at Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena have also been postponed including the debut performance in the emirate of award-winning American singer-songwriter Khalid on Friday, October 27, and American rapper Macklemore on Saturday, October 28.

Other postponements or cancellations

Other events that have been postponed include Cairo International Film Festival, which was set to take place from November 15 to 24, but has now been moved to a later date. Meanwhile, the Tunisian government has cancelled the 34th Carthage Film Festival, Africa's oldest cinema showcase, in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Updated: October 24, 2023, 10:55 AM