Abu Dhabi/Dubai: The words "Happy New Year" were heard everywhere as people gathered at various places across the emirates to ring in 2012.
Earlier in the night, shopping malls were jam-packed on New Year's Eve as people shopped for new clothes in preparation for a night of festivities. Many stores attracted customers with alluring sales for the occasion.
"It's nice to dress up with a fresh look to start the year off feeling good," said Hana, 22, a Lebanese national.
Clubs and restaurants were vying to attract patrons to spend the night as they offered special treats and activities.
Nearly every hotel in Abu Dhabi had gala dinners planned and DJs.
In Dubai, huge crowds were heading towards the Burj Khalifa for the festivities at Downtown Dubai and the spectacular fireworks at the Burj.
But not all were vying to spend the night out.
"It's too crowded and expensive to go out on New Year's Eve, so I usually cook a special meal for my family and we invite our friends," said Unita, 43, an Indian in Abu Dhbai. In Abu Dhabi, traffic was slow but people seemed to be patient and in a happy mood. People were seen making their way to the Corniche. Many had New Year paper hats and noise makers.
In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) ran the Mmetro throughout the night. Last year many people who had come to Dubai Mall were left stranded as the train shut down at midnight. Dubai Ambulance Services also did not take a chance and stationed two large ambulances east and west of the Burj Khalifa and a "rapid responder" vehicle to reach any revellers in distress. In Sharjah, the mood was festive but a huge crowd of people also headed towwards Dubai to celebrate the New Year at various iconic spots.
In Abu Dhabi, the UAE Air Force put on an air show with fighter jets skimming the rooftops and drawing beautiful shapes with colourful smoke.
For music lovers it was a dream come true as the seven-time Grammy award-winning British rock band Coldplay performed at a packed concert near the Volvo Ocean Race Destination Village on the Corniche.
A Lebanese national said her family spent New Year's Eve enjoying a pot-luck dinner with around six to eight families.
"Each family brings a dish and drinks, we put on our music and enjoy the dancing and gathering," said Helen.
"Last year my husband and I spent New Year's Eve in the Maldives. It was an amazing experience and a nice change and we came back fresh and ready to resume work," said Rima, a Lebanese national.
"This year my friends and I decided to party, so we gathered a group of about 40 and we are heading to Dubai to party at Trilogy in Jumeirah," said Amir, 21, a Palestinian.