World champions New Zealand took advantage of Fijian indiscipline to record their first win at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens since 2003.
The islanders had a player sin binned early in both periods and New Zealand ruthlessly made their extra man advantage count on the way to romping 26-0 clear.
But that was merely the signal for Fiji to launch a breathtaking comeback, rattling up 21 points without reply in just three minutes.
Yet just when the mother of all shocks appeared to be on the cards, Fiji made a hash of the restart and handed possession back to New Zealand who eventually worked a match-winning try for Steven Yates despite the suggestion of a knock-on.
The final whistle brought the curtain down on 38 years of rugby sevens at the home of the Dubai Exiles before the event moves to new purpose-built facilities near Dubailand which will be ready by next November.
And victory means New Zealand have made the best possible start to the defence of their IRB world crown and the quest for an eighth title in nine years.
The impressive Zar Lawrence and Yates both claimed two tries for New Zealand with Nigel Hunt also crossing while Neumi Nanuku made up for his yellow card for a shoulder charge with a try before Vereniki Goneva and Akuila Nawerecagi also touched down for Fiji.
Earlier New Zealand accounted for Dubai holders South Africa in a high-quality and extremely physical semi-final, and Fiji battled their way past an unfortunate England side that was unrecognisable from the outfit that struggled on the first day of the tournament.
Argentina, meanwhile, rallied from trailing 14-0 at the break to beat Samoa 15-14 in a thrilling plate final thanks to scores from Alejandro Abadie, Santiago Gomez Cora and Agustin Gosio.
Peter Owens claimed a hat-trick of tries as Australia dominated Canada 31-0 to win the bowl competition, captain Shawn MacKay and Tim Wright also touching down.
And Zimbabwe launched a thrilling comeback to clinch the Shield final, bouncing back from trailing 19-10 to defeat Tunisia 22-19 with Gerald Sibanda and Wensley Mbanje both touching down twice.
Local favourites the Arabian Gulf had another tough day at the office although Adrian Kerr, of the Dubai Dragons, managed to claim a try in his side's 36-5 defeat by Australia in the Bowl quarter-finals.
Coach Mike Lunjevich said: "We are a better side than last year and fitter, but all the other teams have improved as well."