The Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) has cancelled its sixth Leadership Majlis - the annual major communications conference in Abu Dhabi - amid Coronavirus concerns, as well as several other key events.
Due to be held under the theme 'Progress & Potential: Public Relations in the Middle East', the event brings together some of the world’s most esteemed PR professionals for an evening of majlis-style discussions to address the industry’s biggest challenges, trends and opportunities.
However, Sabrina De Palma, communications director at MEPRA, confirmed the event would no longer be going ahead.
It comes as the UAE, in a measure aimed at countering the spread of the coronavirus, has banned entry to valid resident visas holders for a renewable period of two weeks, effective from yesterday (March 19).
The country is also suspending all work visa issuance and visas-on-arrival and imposing a mandatory 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country, any violations of which will be prosecuted.
De Palma said the cancellation of the Majlis could not be avoided.
“As communications professionals, we are all well aware of the ongoing concerns surrounding the spread and impact of COVID-19. We understand that our members will have increased responsibilities to communicate with stakeholders, clients and staff on activities and policies for their own organisations."
The organisation has also set up a 'resource hub', which will include information developed by the board, MEPRA members and partners to support the profession at a time when the importance of clear and ethical communication is vital.
"We encourage all members to share and contribute ways in which they are communicating and supporting stakeholders at this time," said De Palma.
Our priorities at this time is the health of our staff, members & their families & to support you in your professional lives. We developed a Resource Hub to keep us connected, with info by your board, MEPRA members and partners to support the profession: https://t.co/w40zbi9sxv pic.twitter.com/jQuN2pOCCR— MEPRA (@MEPRA_org) March 19, 2020
She added: "Due to the uncertainty about the continued trajectory of the virus, we made the decision to postpone a few of our key events scheduled for the first half of the year: this includes the Abu Dhabi Majlis, CARMA Measurement Workshop, Student Pitch Challenge and our MEPRA Academy training sessions.”
De Palma said MEPRA is hoping to host these events in the second half of the year.
“We will continue to be guided by the UAE and regional governments on these decisions.
"We are offering MEPRA Academy training online, with our first webinar on IGTV Strategy and Content to take place on the 25th March. You can sign up for our webinars here.
"MEPRA's 'The Brief' podcast, will include an episode next week with representatives from agencies and in-house teams discussing how they are navigating these unprecedented circumstances and sharing their thoughts and advice for the industry.”
De Palma said, during this difficult time, MEPRA is "focused more than ever" on bringing people together and supporting each other.
"We are inviting you to share relevant resources or best-practice guides to include in the resource hub which can support the wider industry so we can get through this together. Part of MEPRA's mission is to promote industry standards, share knowledge and build the capabilities of professionals in the region. Together we will weather this storm."
If you would like to contribute resources, tips or guides on communicating through this time to support our industry, please email Sabrina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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