New Year after-party leaves roads clogged

Gridlock lasted several hours as people struggled to get home, but they still enjoyed themselves

Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News
People celebrating the new year at Sandance, Atlantis The Palm, Nasimi Beach.
09 Gulf News

Dubai: The party was big, but the after-party even bigger. Dubai ushered in the New Year with a dazzling array of fireworks and pyrotechnics which lasted several minutes but the deluge of people that left the party arena following the midnight show lasted several hours, leaving the city roads clogged well into the early hours of yesterday morning.

According to estimates, more than a million people flocked in and around Downtown Dubai to watch the New Year spectacle that washed Burj Khalifa in scintillating colours. People were seen walking several kilometres to reach the area, while hundreds of motorists parked their cars wherever they could find space and camped on the roadside.

“I wanted to reach the Dubai Mall but when I realised it wasn’t possible due to the rush, I parked my car on the side of Al Khail Road from where we had a very good view of the Burj Khalifa. We sat there and partied along with several other families who were all having a good time,” Faizan Khan.

Congestion on roads leading to the Downtown area began as early as 6pm and by 7pm the Dubai Mall parking was closed. All roads leading to the area were closed around 9pm and people began to park their cars wherever they could find space with many virtually stopping in the middle of the road.

“The demand was unprecedented and there just wasn’t enough space so we had to close down the roads. But we succeeded in controlling the traffic very well and the night passed without any major accident,” said Hussain Al Banna, Director of Traffic at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

It was a sea of humans and vehicles for several kilometres around Downtown Dubai and when the event concluded the real challenge of the officials began as around a million people began moving all at once.

“When people came to the venue they came in at different times through different means but when the event got over they all began to go out at the same time and it is very difficult to control that many people. Obviously there would be some minor problems but no major issue was recorded,” added Al Banna.

People stationed themselves in and around Dubai Mall as early as 2pm on Monday, many with children and elderly members of the family and returning home jostling among so many people obviously wasn’t a cakewalk.

“It was a lot of fun and really enjoyable. We really had a good time leading up to the fireworks, but going back wasn’t easy especially when you have children and old people with you,” said a mother of two.

Families were seen crossing Shaikh Zayed Road from the Dubai Mall side to the Jumeirah side to catch taxis, while thousands of cars were parked around the Mazaya Centre from where people watched the show.

Earlier, as the crowd began to build up the Metro skipped the Dubai Mall stop and dropped commuters at Business Bay, Financial Centre or Emirates Towers stations, which helped avert chaos at the Dubai Mall station but didn’t amuse people.

“We were forced to get down at other stations but the stations were equally crowded. I got down at Business Bay station but due to overcrowding I got pushed and I couldn’t punch my Nol card. I’m worried that I will be fined,” said Abdul Mateen.

The station was closed to commuters even more than an hour after midnight and people could bee seen gathering around the gates waiting for the doors to open.


  • Ali

    Jan 2, 2013 4:28

    I appreciate bottom from my heart to congrats Dubai Govt. such a wonderful fire-work @ Burj Tower and well organized traffic & supporting staff.God bless UAE &

  • Nasrullah Khan Niazi

    Jan 2, 2013 1:16

    I started my journey at 5 o clock to watch the Fireworks at Burj Khalifa, but there was some accident at national paint Sharjah so reached in Dubai at 7.30, parked the car at Jafliya and boarded in Metro with Friends, Trains were comming almost after every two minutes, but there was no place spare in trains to take us to Burj Khaleefa, but finally we got adjusted by pushing people and but again problem train does not stopped at Burj Khaleefa metro station but stopped at next station, so we came to Burj Khaleefa on foot, attended the excellent firework there, (have seen on TV many other fireworks around the world But found Burj Khaleefa one was best among all) but pain was when we returned back after 12 o clcok again on foot from Burj Khaleefa to Jafliya metro station, where car was parked, and reached back in RAK at 5 o clock in morning, so it was wonderful experience of my life, as i travelled 12 hours and to watch the 5 minutes show, but still my conclusion is that worth of 5 minutes was higher than the worth of 15 hours.

  • Rashid Aboobacker

    Jan 2, 2013 12:49

    The place behind Mercato Mall has given me a perfect choice to photograph the Burj Khalifa fireworks. Without Fireworks of Burj Khalifa, it is difficult to think about the New Year Eve of Dubai. Thanks to H.H.Sheikh Mohammed and his team.

  • Mohammad Shamoon

    Jan 2, 2013 11:44

    We started our journey from Sharjah @ 5pm and due to an accicdent on Ittihad road, we stuck on the traffic. We parked the car near Financial center and then took metro till Dubai Mall. We were in Burj Park around 8 o'clock. We went with preparation like food, drinks and stuffs were with us to spend 5/6 hours. It was stunning show @ Burj and we were 10 family members from Sharjah, Dubai and from Abu Dhabi. After the show we walked down till our car park and then we had our dinner "Biryani" around 2 o'clock and then finally reached back home @ 3.30 am with snail speed in the trafic. I really want to appreciate the efforts made by Dubai authorities. Every thing well managed and they made good arrangements for families. The night was one of the great nights of a lifetime. Happy New Year to all and God bless you.

  • shyam

    Jan 2, 2013 11:29

    Everything was fun till the fire works at Burj Khalifa. After that it was horrible to get to metro. We walked from Business Bay station to Noor Islamic Station which is the longest station. we saw so many people doing the same. really it was not well managed to ride the metro. next time RTA should think about it and prepare well.

  • Raja

    Jan 2, 2013 11:00

    very nice. I will never forget in my life time, but the crowd was so horrible to get away from that place after the event was over. Much transportation is required.

  • Vipin

    Jan 2, 2013 10:19

    The fire works show was spectacular @ Burj Khalifa - Hats off to the UAE authorities for keeping such a great show. On the other hand the aftermath after the show for people to get back home was horrible, unplanned metro-crowd management, the entire families and elderly people were stuck outside having no proper access to the Metro. I saw too many people clogging the entrance of the Metro station - would have been better if they could have put some barricades and made an arrangement for a queue system with separate individual queue for family, elderly, physically handicapped and others so the only needed thing to be controlled would have been the queue - to control a crowd clogging to a small entrance is always difficult. I was at the business bay metro station and waited till 3 am in the morning for the metro without success - finally had to walk from there on SZ road for a long distance and wait to get hold of a taxi. so many tourists were left stranded.

  • Nithyanandhan

    Jan 2, 2013 10:13

    It was a wonderful moment when we saw the fireworks display from burj khalifa and adjacent buildings. we started at around 10 pm from sharjah and reached at 11.40 pm and were lucky enough to stand right in front of burj khalifa on the shaikh zayed road and were even lucky enough to reach sharjah at 12.50 am without getting struck in the traffic. Great moment and happy new year to all.

  • Radha

    Jan 2, 2013 9:04

    Fireworks @ Burj Khalifa was one of its kind. What a spectacular show !! I wish it would have been for at least an hour of show