As the world bids farewell to a tumultuous 2020 and gets ready to welcome the new year, we bring you updates from around the world on the festivities
Watch: The magnificent laser display at Burj Khalifa
Fireworks and laser displays in Dubai, Sharjah
Fireworks in Sharjah
It was a celebration of togetherness, community remembrance and a powerful tribute to the UAE frontliners as Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, lit up Dubai skies with an amazing fireworks and laser show to usher in the New Year.
Before the main event, flags of various countries were displayed on Burj Khalifa. Japan and South Korea came first as they celebrated their New Year at 7pm (UAE time), followed by China, the Philippines and Singapore at 8pm; while Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia came at 9pm. India’s flag was displayed at 10.30pm as well as Sri Lanka’s flag. Pakistan colours, and the flags of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were showcased at 11pm.
The flags of UK, Ireland, and Senegal will be displayed at 4am while the colors of Brazil, Canada, USA, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico will be showcased at 5am.
Fireworks facts and figures
247 firing positions around Burj Khalifa
1,235 firing directions to create an elegant lace of pyrotechnics designs
11,693 firing orders, following orders at a frequency of thousandth of a second, synchronised with GPS clock, linked by optical fiber and 6,500 metres of vertical cables
Lights and laser show listicles
100 outdoor frame moving lights were installed, in addition to 10 RGB 30W lasers on the facade of Burj Khalifa
25km of cable used, including data and power cabling inside and outside the tower plus front of house control point
120 crew from over 15 countries were part of the production team
Twenty minutes into the highly anticipated Burj Khalifa fireworks and laser show, people at Dubai Mall promenade are taking their positions, occupying the square marks designated for each individual as part of the health and precautionary measures. According to sources, Burj Khalifa pyrotechnics and laser show will last 6 minutes and 50 seconds.
Stay tuned and bring out your trumpets to greet the New Year!
Burj Khalifa fireworks is expected to last 6 mins and 50 seconds.
Sheikh Hamdan wishes Happy New Year
Pakistan welcomes New Year
Pakistani flag being displayed on Burj Khalifa.
The long wait for the fireworks display
Lt General Abdullah Al Merri, Commander-in-Chief at Dubai Police checking operations at the command room of Burj Khalifa area.
The long wait for the fireworks display
Times Square barricaded, quiet for NYE
New York City's Times Square was barricaded on Thursday, with only a handful of invited guests, including health care workers and others from the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, allowed in to watch the New Year's Eve ball drop in person, reports Reuters.
Everyone else should stay home and watch the pared-down festivities on television, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, with scores of events around the United States similarly curtailed or moved online.
Tens of thousands of people usually fill the blocks around Times Square, standing for hours in the cold at the focal point of U.S. New Year's Eve celebrations, waiting for a crystal ball to slowly descend in the year's final seconds.
India ushers in New Year
Tribute to COVID-19 frontliners
Since 2010, the theme for the New Year’s Eve has always been kept a secret. This year, however, there are speculations that the theme would revolve around togetherness, community celebration and tribute to COVID-19 frontliners.
Emaar said up to 50,000 people from around the world were expected to join on Zoom calls to witness the New Year’s Eve celebrations that was also streamed live on www.mydubainewyear.com. Netizens were also given the opportunity to share their New Year wishes on the world’s tallest building by using the hashtag #BurjWishes2021.
Tribute to UAE friends
Before the main event, flags of various countries were displayed on Burj Khalifa. Japan and South Korea came first as they celebrated their New Year at 7pm (UAE time), followed by China, the Philippines and Singapore at 8pm while Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia came at 9pm. India’s flag will be displayed at 10.30pm while Pakistan colours will be showcased at 11pm. Other countries, including UK will displayed after midnight.
Fewer spectators, anticipation high
The number of spectators was fewer than last year but the mood and level of anticipation was still high. People still came in droves – some as early as 4pm – to witness live the annual fireworks and laser show on Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.
Unlike in previous years, when people were standing shoulder to shoulder and jockeying for the best view of Burj Khalifa, physical distancing was strictly enforced this year and people had to stand at marked areas to watch the event. Everyone was also required to wear a face mask at all times.
Streets and boulevards at Downtown Dubai and the Dubai Mall Metro Station were closed earlier than usual. No vehicle was allowed along Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard as the entire stretch was designated as a public viewing area.
Only those with QR codes who preregistered on U By Emaar app were allowed access to restaurants and eateries along Dubai Mall Promenade and the public viewing areas at Burj Park and Dubai Opera. Disinfection and sanitisation campaign were conducted a day before New Year’s Eve.
Stronger in 2021
Hours before midnight, Gulf News spoke to some old timers and first timers who came to watch the Burj Khalifa fireworks. Filipino expat Raphael Bacaoco, 26, said it has become a tradition for him to film the pyrotechnics display. “There was an obvious reduction in the number of spectators this year because of the pandemic. But the mood at the foot of Burj Khalifa was still upbeat,” he told Gulf News.
“2020 has been a year of full of challenges but this was also year when we showed our resilience. I think we came out stronger and the UAE, in fact, has shown a resounding success in handling the COVID-19 crisis. For this, we really need to celebrate,” Bacaoco strongly pointed out.
Long-time Dubai resident Agnes Dakay said she went to watch the Burj Khalifa live for the first time in more than 10 years of living in the UAE.
“I came here (Dubai Mall Fountain Area) before 4pm to avoid traffic and to get the best seat. I’m sure I will not be disappointed. Before, because of work, I was only able to watch the fireworks on YouTube. But now, I will see it up close,” she said.
Straight from Birmingham
Talking about excitement, no one perhaps could beat British tourists Haz Rasool and Miya Kainarth. The duo came straight to Dubai Mall after landing at the airport at 9am on New Year’s Eve to book a seat at a restaurant with nice view of Burj Khalifa.
“We had a long flight and we had only a few hours of sleep but we went straight here to book a seat and watch the amazing Burj Khalifa fireworks for the first time. Now, we got the best seats and we’re intrigued and super excited how this will come out,” Rasool and Kainarth said in unison.
Rasool said he would like to come back next year to watch again the fireworks and Dubai while Kainarth said her New Year’s wish is to be able to travel to as many places as she can in 2021.
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Scene at Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa
Restaurant at Dubai Fountain
Cyra Tadifa prepares the table at a restaurant at Dubai Fountain as guests are beginning to take their seats and witness the fireworks and laser show on Burj Khalifa.
All guests, visiting one of the restaurants or hotels on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Souk Al Bahar, Dubai Opera and The Dubai Mall Promenade were via the U By Emaar app. The free and easy-to-use registration process gives guests access at Downtown Dubai on New Year’s Eve.
Strict precautionary measures, including social distancing and wearing of masks, are being enforced at Downtown Dubai for the gala event
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Burj Khalifa Metro station closes
The Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall Metro Station has been closed, RTA has informed. Commuters are asked to use the Financial Centre and Business Bay Metro Stations to reach Burj Khalifa area.
Moderate traffic around Burj Khalifa
Seven hours before midnight, traffic around the vicinity of Burj Khalifa is still moderate. Some roads are already closed and the use of public transport is highly advised.
Both the Red and Green lines on Dubai Metro will operate straight until 1am on Saturday (January 2). The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), meanwhile, advised Metro users to take note that Burj Khalifa/ Dubai Mall Metro station will be closed from 5pm today (New Year’s Eve) until 6am tomorrow (January 1). During closure time, commuters can use either the Financial Centre Metro Station or Business Bay Metro Station.
The RTA advised motorists going to Downtown Dubai to use DubaiMetro and leave their vehicles at the parking area in Rashidiya and Etisalat metro stations.
Later after the fireworks display at Burj Khalifa, commuters can use any of the 200 buses allocated by the RTA to transport spectators free of charge from the event venue to metro stations, in addition to taxi parking spots in each of the parking lots of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRAFA), Musallah Al Eid hall in Al Mankhool and Al Wasl Club.
The RTA reminded the commuters to practice physical distancing and give priority to senior citizens, women, children, and People of Determination in trains and elevators.
Video: People beginning to arrive at Jumeirah Beach
New Zealand celebrates New Year
Scene at Downtown Dubai
Dubai Police have started rerouting the flow of traffic after Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Al Asayel Street and the lower deck of Financial Centre Road were closed at 4pm.
Al Mustaqbal Street will be closed gradually from Business Bay and Dubai World Trade Center intersections starting from 6pm and Al Sukuk street will close at 8pm while the upper deck of Financial Centre Road will close at 9pm.
There are still ample parking inside Dubai Mall. Emaar has allocated around 16,700 parking slots in the mall, including Zabeel extension parking area.
Don’t forget the QR code
Spectators must ensure they carry the QR code issued after registering at U By Emaar app. Access to Downtown Dubai will be through five gates erected around the area and only those with QR code can go to the viewing locations. The QR codes are segregated by colours: light blue for restaurants and eateries; dark red for those who can go at Dubai Opera; and black for public viewing areas along Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard.
Al Asayel road closed
Dubai Police: Al Asayel road leading to Burj Khalifa area is temporarily closed and will be designated for buses and emergency vehicles only.
Scenes from Dubai Mall
Spreading cheer with smart technologies
Preparations in full swing at Al Wathba
Families at Buhairah Corniche in Sharjah
'Celebrate with caution'
World is ushering in a new year in the shadow of an unprecedented pandemic, marked by stringent safety measures. The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority called on people in the UAE to adhere to the safety guidelines and protocols in place over New Year's Eve celebrations on Thursday.