UAE | General

Satellite to guide Burj Khalifa fireworks show

Satellite to guide Burj Khalifa put up the mother of all shows on New Year's Eve

  • By Muby Asger, Staff reporter
  • Published: 00:00 December 30, 2010
  • XPRESS

Burj Khalifa
  • Image Credit: GN Archive
  • Keeping safety in mind, a special non-explosive paper-based firework will be used

Dubai: The fireworks display on New Year's Eve at Burj Khalifa will be the highest in the world and will be guided by satellites, XPRESS can exclusively reveal.

The visual extravaganza will be put together by a 120-member team of Prisme International, the company behind the show at the Burj Khalifa launch on January 4.

Speaking to XPRESS, Prisme International CEO Pierre Marcout said Emaar confirmed the deal in October, giving him and his team of 120 less than three months to put together the highest firework display in history. "The New Year's Eve extravaganza will be very different from the Burj Khalifa launch," says Marcout. "At the launch, we created a three-act story to showcase the tower and its design. This time, there will be a four-act show which will focus on the tower itself, as well as all of the surrounding area."

Planning

To put together a visual feat of this magnitude in less than 12 weeks was a challenge of extraordinary proportions. Marcout and his team worked round the clock, seven days a week, for nearly three months, to create the display.

The show, which will be visible from a distance of 10km, will include sound, lights, laser, music and, of course, the grand finale, the fireworks.

"To create the world's highest firework display was a huge challenge for us," says Marcout, the man who has created this show. "Most important was for us to know the logistical, technical and architectural details of the tower inside out. With people living there, we have to be very sure that there is zero margin for error."

Keeping safety in mind, Prisme will use a special non-explosive paper-based firework on the night, so as to avoid any danger to the audience and the tower itself. "The fireworks will not drop sparks as they fizzle out, there will be no trail of ash when the display ends, and since it's all paper-based material as opposed to plastic, the show will be environmentally friendly," Marcout claimed.

The team needs to be extra careful about the wind conditions on December 31. "Weather predictions are in our favour at the moment. There is no rain expected, and the wind speed works to our advantage," says Marcout who, along with a core team of 12, will be in a specially installed control station minutely looking at every detail.

What to expect

The show, which Marcout advises is best viewed from the lake area in the Burj Khalifa district, will begin at 2345 hours with a four-act story and end at 0010hrs, with the 1,000-metre high fireworks expected to kick off just before midnight.

"The music to accompany the show will be broadcast live on Dubai's radio stations so that even those watching from a distance of 2km can enjoy the sound effects to complement what their eyes will witness," says the Frenchman.

Early this year, Prisme's biggest challenge at the January 4 Burj Khalifa fireworks was to line the tower with kilometres of wire that were linked to smart computers that controlled lights and fireworks. But this year, Marcout is taking the show to a different level to ensure ultimate safety. High above the Earth's atmosphere, a satellite will relay signals to and from the control station to produce a well-synchronised display of laser beams and fireworks. "The last time, there was a momentary panic, when we had to unplug the wires while the VIPs entered, only to replug everything five minutes later to kickstart the show. This year, we've changed the arrangement. There will be no physical traces of wires anywhere. Everything will be controlled via satellite," explains Marcout. Computers will be connected to the satellite control modules which will provide Marcout and his core team with all technical data required to pull off the act.

He was tight-lipped on the number of fireworks scheduled to explode into the night sky but hinted it would run into the thousands, as the Burj Khalifa launch saw 10,000 fireworks in just the grand finale alone.

While it's impossible to have a rehearsal beforehand, Marcout and his team have gone over the virtual version of the show countless times on the computer. "For each firework, we know the duration, and how the effect will turn out. We can control all of it from our computers in the control room."

"The Burj is Dubai's icon. It's the tallest building in the world. When midnight on December 31 rolls around, the world will be watching. And we want to live up to its expectation. We are going to provide the people of Dubai and the rest of the world an elegant and magical show," says Marcout.

Comparisons

"London, Sydney and New York are all known for their December 31 extravaganzas," says Marcout. "Dubai, too, will be on that list." Unlike the fireworks display at the Burj Al Arab, the show at Burj Khalifa will be handled very differently. "While the Burj Al Arab uses water as their focal point along with big shell fireworks, we have to work differently. Ours is a vertical challenge. The fireworks we use have to contain a non-explosive powder, which can, on no occasion, ignite even the tiniest spark," says Marcout. The show, which will be broadcast worldwide, is expected to have a television viewership of over two billion people, a figure larger than even the opening of the Burj Khalifa tower.

The lake area in the Burj Khalifa district will be able to accommodate approximately 200,000 people. However, the show will be visible from most areas in the district, including the boulevard.

Comments (1)

  1. Added 14:38 December 30, 2010

    Wow! Loved to see this splendid extravaganza.... Wishing all XPRESS readers a wonderful New Year -- hope you all have a rocking 2011!

    Farhana, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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