PR in sharp focus as coronavirus forces Middle East event cancellations

The first Ultra Festival to be staged in the Middle East has been cancelled amid fears over coronavirus, its PR spokespeople have said. Other events across the region have also been called off.

The first Ultra Festival to be staged in the Middle East has been cancelled amid coronavirus fears
The first Ultra Festival to be staged in the Middle East has been cancelled amid coronavirus fears

Ultra Festival Abu Dhabi was due to be held at du Arena on 5-6 March but PR firm Cosmopole – on behalf of organisers – confirmed cancellation of the event following "consultation with leading government and business entities".

The event was due to play host to over a dozen of the world’s biggest DJs, with an influx of more than 20,000 people expected to attend. Ultra Music Festival is an annual outdoor electronic music festival that takes place during March in Miami, Florida. This was the first time the festival was due to take place in the Middle East.

But Abu Dhabi boutique agency Cosmopole revealed in a statement: "Following consultation with leading government and business entities, Ultra Abu Dhabi will be rescheduled until further notice.

"The decision has been made as 40 per cent of attendees are due to fly to Abu Dhabi for the event and have been affected by the global travel restrictions.

"Given the current disruption to travel and mass gatherings around the world, only a rescheduled event in the near future will provide the flagship experience that Ultra is known for delivering, and that our partygoers expect.

"All tickets will be refunded through the original channel of purchase.”

Spreading cancellations

This week, the final stages of the UAE Tour cycling race were cancelled after two team members tested positive for coronavirus.

Abu Dhabi Sports Council said two Italian participants were confirmed to have Covid-19. The Department of Health in Abu Dhabi (DoH) later said it had taken precautionary measures in two hotels on Yas Island, where cyclists and crew had been staying, to test anyone that may have come into contact with the patients.

Authorities stated on Saturday that the first 167 tests for the virus had come back negative after around 600 riders, staff members and media were checked over two days.

No pilgimage

It comes as Saudi Arabia made the unprecedented decision in the past week to halt travel to the holiest sites in Islam over coronavirus fears, just months ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, as the Middle East recorded more than 220 confirmed cases.

The decision by Saudi prevents foreigners from reaching the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba. It also said travel was suspended to Prophet Muhammad's mosque in Medina.

Disease outbreaks have always been a concern surrounding the Hajj – a task required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life – especially as pilgrims come from all over the world.

The hardest-hit nation in the Middle East is Iran, where health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 19 people have died among 139 confirmed cases.

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