Dubai ushered in New Year in style with spectacular fireworks that featured a magical eight-act display presenting the futuristic vision of the UAE.
The fireworks kicked off at 12am at the Burj Khalifa tower, moving to the Business Bay Canal, and on to the Jumeirah coastline to the iconic Burj Al Arab, before it reached its peak in a six-minute and 20 seconds crescendo at The Beach by Meraas, opposite to Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).
A fire that erupted at the Address Hotel Downtown near Burj Khalifa failed to dampen the revellers' excitement as the world's tallest tower assumed the form of a digital structure wrapped in multiple LED displays.
What followed next was a rare symphony of colourful fireworks matched by graphic design on the tower’s façade that will make for a compelling visual treat.
People around the Downtown area, erupted in applause and cheers as the light show that preceded the fire show started and they continued to until the fireworks died down.
In addition to the thousands of people who stood and sat in the designated viewing areas in the Downtown area, there were thousands of others who overflowed the restaurants in Downtown and Dubai Mall and surrounding areas, and wanted to ensure they get a prime spot to the admire the spectacle.
OFFSHORE SPECTACLE: New Year fireworks off the The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai. (Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News)
The jaw-dropping 20-minute fire display burned through some nine tonnes of fireworks.
Haya Al Astal from Palestine who was at the Burj Plaza, said the fireworks were incredible, "it was a sensory overload, in a good way. We really enjoyed it. Happy New Year to everyone."
Shahd Ibrahim from Egypt, who was in JBR said the show at JBR was spectacular as expected, "it was a surprise that the fireworks were being shot out of the waters, it is really breathtaking."
Mohammad Saleem, from Pakistan who was there with his family at Burj Plaza said his little children were a little startled at first, but were amazed at the display.
"We were worried that they were going to cancel the fireworks when the fire broke out, but we are glad things went according to the original plan," he said.
New Year's eve was saved thanks to the quick intervention and impressive efforts of Dubai Civil Defence and other teams on ground.
Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said that firefighting efforts are going on, and that civil defence teams are working on extinguishing the fire from outside and inside the hotel.
Al Mazeina added that once the firefighting efforts are completed, the teams will begin cooling procedures to ensure that the fire does not spread. He pointed out that the firefighters are also sweeping the hotel to ensure that no one is stranded inside.
Black plume of smoke can be seen billowing out of The Address Hotel building. Flames are still seen on some floors, big flames on the building's north-west side had been put out.
The New Year's Eve celebrations will continue as scheduled in Dubai, according to authorities. The Dubai Civil Defence said they have kept the flames under control.
Forteen (14) people who suffered minor injuries at The Address Hotel fire were treated on site, said Maj.Gen. Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Dubai Police Chief.
A man also reportedly suffered a heart attack upon learning about the fire and was rushed to the hospital.
The Address Hotel (right) in downtown Dubai burning after huge fire ripped through the luxury hotel near the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa (left). AFP
Dubai Mall, which is adjacent to the hotel, was evacuated, said eye-witnesses.
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) December 31, 2015
A tweep said the small fire started small behind the Address Hotel Downtown, on a part facing the Burj Khalifa tower.
Twitter post showed the initial stage of the fire, starting on the lower part of the sailboat-shaped building.
But the fire raged and quickly spread to other parts of the hotel, fanned by strong winds coming in from the north.
Witnesses said the ash is drifting through the air, but the fire starting to taper off.
A civil defence spokesperson said: "Three teams are battling the flames, and they almost have it under control". He added that the hotel has been evacuated.
Witnesses said the ash is drifting through the air and flaming debris were falling off.
Other areas further from the fire are unaffected and people are still lined up for the event. All gazes were averted to the burning hotel.
A scene inside the Dubai Mall, near the access door to Burj Khalifa. Eyewitness said that people are being evacuated out of Dubai Mall and the hotel.
Update: A fire broke out at The Address Hotel, not far from the Burj Khalifa Tower, around which thousands of people have gathered to watch the New Year fireworks.
Flaming debris was seen falling from the burning The Address Downtown, a stand-alone hotel.
"I hope everyone is safe. I can't believe this is happening at this time," said one eye witness.
Riaz Mohammad, a resident of Al Nahda Sharjah who came to watch the Dubai fireworks display, said: “I was in the Dubai Downtown area when the fire broke out, and we immediate started to leave the area. We managed to get it out of the place and headed back to Sharjah.”
The Dubai Media Office sent out a tweet.
Eye-witnesses said the small fire started small behind the Address Hotel Downtown, on a part facing the Burj Khalifa tower. A Twitter post showed the initial stage of the fire, starting on the lower part of the sailboat-shaped building.
But the fire raged and quickly spread to other parts of the hotel, fanned by strong winds coming in from the north.
A staff from restaurant in the hotel said they were asked to evacuate from around.
Before long, flaming debris were seen coming down in Souq Al Bahar area, a mixed-use complex of retail and residential units which is had also been evacuated.
The Address Hotel Downtown, a stand-alone hotel, was reportedly in flames.
The lights-and-sound event, which presents the futuristic vision of the UAE, follows weeks of elaborate preparations to welcome visitors to Downtown Dubai who have started to converge around the iconic Burj Khalifa complex to witness one of the world's biggest New Year's Eve parties.
Fire at The Address hotel
Station entrance to open without Nol cards
.@RTA_Dubai:To ease the metro usage for the public,the station entrance will be open without using #NolCard &fare to be paid at the drop off— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) December 31, 2015
Road from Zabeel Intersection closed
Road from Zabeel Intersection toward Dubai Mall is now closed. #MyDubaiNewYear— Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) December 31, 2015
Abu Dhbai Al Maryah Island marina filling up with revellers
Crowd builds up at Business Bay Metro station
Al Khail road leading to Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard closed
#attention: please note that ِAl Khail Road leading to Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard has been closed. #MyDubaiNewYear — RTA (@RTA_Dubai) December 31, 2015
Four more hours to biggest show of the year
The crowd waiting for the big show at Downtown Dubai is buzzing with excitement. People are filling the viewing areas and the crowd keeps getting denser. About four more hours to go.
Revellers starts walking from Financial Centre station
Shaikh Zayed Road traffic update: vehicles towards Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall are barely moving.
Metro update from Business Bay
Business Bay Metro station is closed. People are no longer allowed to get in, our reporter on site says.
Trains not stopping at Burj Khalifa station
Dubai Metro trains are no longer stopping at Burj Khalifa metro station, reporter on site says. People who are going to Downtown Dubai can walk from Financial Centre metro station.
Al Sa'ada Street leading to Mohammed Bin Rashed Boulevard is now closed. Kindly use alternative routes, says Dubai Police
Locations of Ambulance teams, First Aid and Los & Found tents new Burj Khalifa Area
First Aid, Lost & Found tens and @Dubai_Ambulance locations #MyDubaiNewYear pic.twitter.com/T6VIyV2eaE— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) December 31, 2015
More roads closed
Al Asayel Street connecting Oud Metha Road with Financial Centre Street is closed to traffic #MyDubaiNewYear pic.twitter.com/EupfuxONgb — Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) December 31, 2015
Attention: All entrances to Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard are now completely closed. #MyDubaiNewYear — Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) December 31, 2015
Vehicles start inching their way towards Dubai Mall as traffic starts to build-up to as seen from the World Trade Centre station.
The Downtown Dubai New Year’s Eve Gala, one of the world’s most-watched New Year’s Eve spectacle, is welcoming 2016 with elaborate preparations to host the hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the globe.
New Year's Eve revellers start walking from Business Bay Metro station towards the Downtown Dubai complex for the New Year's Eve fireworks.
This New Year’s Eve celebration will be further defined by a fascinating LED display on the 828-metre (2,716.5 ft) high Burj Khalifa’s façade with some 357,000 LED nodes being lit up in myriad hues to highlight a number of themes including a tribute to the UAE.
Emergency services crew at their station, one of the 16 service points where an ambulance, lost-and-found tents and retail stall are available.
People start converging around the Burj Khalifa tower on Thursday, December 31, 2015.
#TrafficUpdates Dubai New Year’s Eve street closures are as follows: #YourSecurityOurHappiness #MyDubaiNewYear #2016 pic.twitter.com/vTllR0Tbn7— Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) December 31, 2015
Just to give you an idea of the crowd volume at the Burj Khalifa Metro Station at the moment. The station will be closed by 10pm.
Revellers come with snack packs as they start making a beeline to the area designated for families in Downtown Dubai.
Security personnel walk towards their station to help in crowd control during the Dubai's biggest New Year's Eve bash.
Early birds take a break on their nap mat, while some set up their camera equipment from as early as 2pm on Thursday near Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Many families and friends mark the last day of the year in Dubai -- and as close to the Burj Khalifa tower as possible.
Yasmin, a Ras Al Khaimah resident, came with family to the Burj complex early. She said: "We celebrate the New Year in Dubai each year. This year, they've prepared an impressive area for families from where to witness the lights-and-sound and fireworks. We're as excited as the children."
Just a few people at the moment at Burj Khalifa Park.
"I'm spending my New Year working here (Dubai Mall) selling drinks," said Jubeir, a fastfood crew. "But it doesn't really feel like I'm working, because this is where I want to be at this time and on this day. I'm just happy and excited because it's my first time to watch the fireworks here in Dubai."
Traffic moves smoothly around Burj Khalifa. It's eerily quiet. But probably not for too long. We drove around the main C-shaped boulevard around the tower and Dubai Mall complex. It looks pretty quiet here.
All roads to the downtown Burj Khalifa area will be closed today, December 31, 2015, from 8pm to 12.30am on January 1, 2016.
There will be 170 additional buses operated by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority to take you to and from yuor venue.
Barriers: Video shows the barriers around the Downtown Dubai complex of which the centrepiece is the Burj Khalifa Tower.
It's still virtually empty at the moment. But probaly not for long.
If you're coming by Metro, please note that the Burj Khalifa station will be closed by 10pm, on Thursday, December 31, 2015, but Metro Stations will be opened continuously from New Year's Eve until Saturday morning, January 2, 2016.