Updated: Cancelled and postponed events across the region

Reasons from organisers include health concerns and travel restrictions

Club Social
Club Social

A growing number of events across the UAE, chiefly within Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as the wider region, are either being postponed or cancelled.

Explanations from event organisers across the country range from slumped demand due to travel bans, to health concerns regarding the current coronavirus situation.

According to the World Health Organisation’s latest coronavirus disease situation report, there are currently 80,174 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China and a further 8,774 cases worldwide.

Airlines around the globe have been implementing travel bans, either by their own decision or as advised by government ministries. This safety measure has the knock-on effect of lowering international visitation numbers to places like Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Art Dubai 2020

Art Dubai 2020 has been postponed this year.

The 14th edition of the art fair was originally supposed to take place from March 25 to 28 but has been halted following consultations with its partners and stakeholders about the coronavirus.

Art Dubai CEO Benedict Floyd said in a statement: “In consideration of the on-going global health implications of the coronavirus and having consulted with our partners and stakeholders, Art Dubai today announces that the 14th edition of the international art fair, scheduled for 25 - 28th March 2020, will be postponed.“

Floyd, along with artistic director Pablo del Val and international director Chloe Vaitsou revealed the event will be scaled back for the time being.

Floyd explained: “Given the essential role the fair plays in promoting local and regional artists, we have made the decision to stage a programme tailored to the local cultural community instead, including existing fair programme contributors and thought-leaders.”

He continued: “The new format is planned to run on the same dates, and will present events, exhibitions, talks and strands of the existing Art Dubai programme. These will include local and regional gallery presentations, Global Art Forum, Residents and Campus Art Dubai.“

He concluded: “Lastly, we would also like to express our sincere thanks for all the support and understanding we have received from our partners and friends over the past week. Our thoughts are with everyone globally who has been affected by the virus.”

Dubai International Boat Show 2020

Initially planned to kick off on March 10 and last till March 14, the Dubai International Boat Show has been temporarily postponed.

Reported by sister publication Time Out Dubai, the 28th edition of the show has been moved to November 24 to 28.

A statement on the official Dubai Boat Show website stated:

“In light of the evolving global developments around the COVID-19 virus, Dubai World Trade Centre has been closely monitoring the situation, particularly as it pertains to our key stakeholders and participating delegations from around the world across all our upcoming shows.”

It added: “Whilst the UAE remains completely safe for travel, and has deployed the strictest medical and hygiene protocols, we fully recognise that for some specific shows, we have a high majority of key participants significant to the event’s programme that are unable to travel due to restrictions in their home country.”

It summarised: “As such, we have been working closely to assure that our clients’ needs are most effectively addressed, and the delivery of strong international participation considered, in these extraordinary times.”

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Annual Summit 2020

Above: PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy

Held in Ras Al Khaimah, the PATA Annual Summit 2020 would’ve been a global forum bringing together industry leaders in the tourism world. The conference has both public and private sector professionals meet to discuss the current issues to the Asia Pacific region’s tourism market.

However, amid the “evolving dynamics” of the coronavirus, the event has been cancelled and moved to next year.

The statement from PATA explained:

“Due to the evolving dynamics of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and after much discussion and deliberation with the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAK TDA) and the PATA Executive Board, the PATA Annual Summit 2020 in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates from March 31 to April 3 will no longer take place.”

It continued: “The safety and well-being of our members, industry colleagues and local communities is fundamental in our mission in acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. With this in mind, we had come to this tremendously difficult decision.”

The statement assured that: “We are extremely disappointed in making this announcement; however, we have been closely monitoring this continually developing situation and believe that it was best that we made this decision in a clear and timely manner.”

Taste of Dubai

Image credit: Arabian Business

Taste of Dubai is one of the final instalments of the overarching Dubai Food Festival (DFF). DFF is an 18-day long affair celebrating the emirate’s diverse and evolving culinary scene. Taste of Dubai acts as one of its outdoor events bringing in pop-up eateries, food trucks, discounted food and entertainment.

The outdoor event this year however has been moved from March 12 to 14 to December 9 to 12.

According to an official release, the date change was made “due to the continued global developments regarding the COVID-19 and following precautionary measures being implemented by the UAE government.”

Ultra Abu Dhabi

What would’ve been the Ultra Music Festival’s debut into the UAE capital has been postponed “due to the travel restrictions imposed by some countries and airlines for individuals and groups.”

The lively music event was planned to take place on March 5 and 6, though has been moved with no new date yet given.

It added that the decision was made to “ensure the health and safety of the public.”

According to the event’s website, it had a line up including Major Lazer, DJ Snakke, Zedd and Afrojack, all of which are prolific figures in the dance music scene.

Club Social 2020

Yet another music event in the UAE capital, Club Social 2020 too has been postponed over health concerns.

Organisers of the event said it had been halted until further notice, those who have booked tickets will be reimbursed.

The event was slated to take place from March 12 to 14 at Yas Links, Yas Island. Its headliners included Liam Gallagher, Kaiser Chiefs and Clean Bandit.

Though no date was revealed, it was assured the event would be held later this year.

Red Sea International Film Festival 

Image credit: AP/Shutterstock 

What would've been the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival has been postponed over health concerns. 

The Saudi event was projected to be the first of its kind in the Kingdom, acting as a celebration of Saudi's film industry and the industry as a whole. 

Its official statement explained: 

"Following the precautionary measures taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and our primary consideration being the safety and wellbeing of our guests, staff and audiences, the Red Sea International Film Festival is postponing its inaugural edition." 

The statement said that new dates will be released soon, though the event will not take place from March 12 to 21 this year as first planned. 

Music Bank in Dubai 

Image credit: Esquire Middle East

K-Pop music event Music Bank in Dubai has been postponed, originally scheduled for March 21 at the 17,000-capacity Coca Cola Arena. 

Organiser Makestar announced in a tweet the decision was made due to the "global developments around the COVID-19 virus and the increasing number of infections confirmed in South Korea." 

Forum de l’Investissement Hôtelier Africain

Forum de l’Investissement Hôtelier Africain (FIHA) has been moved from March 23-25 to July 7-9 over health concerns.

Bench Events chairman Jonathan Worsley said: “A number of participating companies are responding to the coronavirus outbreak by implementing policies to restrict their executives from travelling and we must make sure that our delegates are safe. As FIHA is all about networking and meeting people, that is a genuine challenge. I am grateful to many of our speakers and sponsors who have told us they are willing to reschedule to a later date. We are also grateful to Accor and the Sofitel for being so understanding and flexible.”

FIHA is a key event in Africa’s yearly hospitality calendar. The international event works to encourage the development of the region’s hotels, while working to attract tourists and business travellers. As African countries become more politically and economically stable, investor confidence has been growing in the industry.

Arabian Travel Market 2020

Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organisers of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), has announced that the event will now take place from June 28 to July 1 2020 at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, U.A.E.

The decision to postpone the event, which was due to take place from April 19 to 22, was made due to the escalation of the COVID-19 epidemic after consulting stakeholders, the venue management, supporting associations, and in alignment with advice from the UAE public health authorities regarding travel to and from impacted countries.

The statement released this morning by Reed Travel Exhibitions said: “We at Arabian Travel Market want to express our concern for everyone impacted by coronavirus. Like all of you, we have carefully monitored the global health crisis related to COVID-19 coronavirus. Our top priority is the health and safety of everyone involved in Arabian Travel Market; employees, partners, customers and exhibitors.

“Whilst the UAE is following the strictest medical and hygiene protocols in line with international standards, we have made this decision in the best interest of the industry to enable us to organise an event which provides effective participation and experience for all. The announcement has been made at the earliest opportunity to give as much notice as possible to all stakeholders enabling them to make the necessary arrangements to reschedule their plans, and ensure even stronger attendance in June.

Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2020

Bench Events and MEED, the organisers of Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2020, have announced the event will now take place from September 21 to 22 2020 at Madinat Jumeriah.

After consulting with its partners, stakeholders and AHIC Advisory Board, the organisers opted to postpone the event. Originally AHIC was scheduled to take place from April 14 to 16.

The statement from Bench Events founder and chairman Jonathan Worsley said: “Over the past few weeks, we have been closely monitoring the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and assessing whether the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2020 should take place.”

The statement added: "It has become increasingly clear that the event will inevitably be impacted by speakers, delegates, sponsors and partners unable to attend due to global travel restrictions. As a result, and following close consultation with our event partners, stakeholders and the AHIC Advisory Board, we have made the difficult decision to postpone AHIC 2020."

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