The Dubai International Film Festival, the top cinematic event in the Arab world, has been canceled for 2018 but will be staged from 2019 every two years, organizers said Thursday.
The announcement came a day after neighboring Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the United Arab Emirates, unveiled its first cinema after a decades-long ban.
“The strategic shift aims to embrace the significant changes taking place in the region’s creative and entertainment landscape,” organizers said on the festival’s website.
The 14-year-old festival will now be held every other year, according to organizers, with the 2019 dates yet to be determined.
International theatre chains have long eyed Saudi Arabia as the Middle East’s last untapped mass market with its more than 30 million residents, the majority aged under 25.
Saudis have been splurging billions of dollars annually to see films and visit amusement parks in neighboring tourist hubs like Dubai and Bahrain.