The Jeddah Film Festival has been cancelled at the last minute, much to the shock of the organisers and the participants.
The event was scheduled to take place on July 18 at King Abdul Aziz Cultural Centre, Jeddah.
Officials from the Jeddah governorate cited "lack of preparations" as the cause for the cancellation although Mamdouh Salem, director of the festival confirmed that "everything was ready".
Seventy-one films from the Gulf, including a new entry from Yemen and 15 short European films, to be screened publicly, according to Salem. Several awards were also set to be given away at the event.
The director added that the judging panel, which included Omani director Khaled Al-Zajali, UAE writer Khaled Al-Bodour, Saudi producer Majdi Wadou and writer Halema Muzafar, had already begun the judging process.
More than 50 directors from around the Gulf and a number of other well known identities from the film world had travelled to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Rotana Studios for the event.
"I'm sorry that they came all this way only for the event to be canceled," said Salem, who added that he was attempting to identify a clear explanation for the cancellation from the concerned authorities.
He reiterated that the festival strictly followed the country's media regulations and sought to "present cinema in a positive way".
The cancellation comes as a huge disappointment to Saudi Arabia's young generation of filmmakers, who have been pushing for wider acceptance of the medium in the Kingdom.