190716 oliver
Filmmaker Oliver Stone was expected to attend the Red Sea International Film Festival, which has now been postponed. Image Credit: AP

The first Saudi film festival has been postponed due to concerns around the spread of the coronavirus.

The Red Sea International Film Festival was set to kick off on March 12-21 in Al-Balad, Historic Jeddah.

American filmmakers Oliver Stone and Spike Lee were two of the announced celebrity guests.

“To ensure the health and safety of our guests, audience and staff, we regret to inform you that we have had to make the difficult decision to postpone the opening edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival, as per the advice of local health authorities, as well as the information that is available to us,” wrote the organiser in an Arabic announcement.

“The spread of coronavirus is a battle we all must face around the globe, and it’s with no hesitation that we are respecting all the measure needed to meet the current health emergency,” they added in a social media post.

They added that they will be deciding on new dates for 2020 “as soon as feasible” and renewing their commitment to their goals and plans.

“Rest assured, the Festival will take place at a later date, as we remain committed to all filmmakers, producers, partners and audiences,” they wrote. “We hope you remain in good health.”