Dubai-based businessman Asif Zaman with his family members
Dubai-based businessman Syed Asif Zaman with his family members Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: New Year celebrations in the UAE have been a dazzling spectacle, featuring extravagant fireworks lighting up the iconic skyline of various emirates and parties everywhere.

This New Year’s Eve, however, the scenario will be slightly different. While many residents are thrilled to ring in 2024 in a spectacular way with family and friends, some have decided not to celebrate this time in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza who have been pounded by attacks from Israel.

Gulf News spoke to a cross section of residents who are celebrating the New Year and those who have called it off as well. Here is what they had to say.

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Award winning Emirati toastmaster and emcee Shurooq Al Banna is all excited to ring in the New Year at the most happening place — Downtown Dubai.

“For the past few years, I’ve skipped celebrating New Year’s Eve, dedicating that time to working on my resolutions and plans for the upcoming year,” said Al Banna.

Shurooq Al Banna
Shurooq Al Banna

However, this year will be different, she said. “I’ve decided to create a special experience for my little ones who are now old enough to understand and appreciate the occasion. We’ve made reservations for a dinner in Downtown

Dubai and will be soaking in the spectacular fireworks show at Burj Khalifa. It will be an unforgettable moment for my two eldest kids as they witness the breathtaking fireworks for the first time, and I couldn’t be more excited for them. I hope my kids remain awake,” said the excited mother of five.

Hassam El Din Kamal
Hussam El Din Kamel

Sudanese expat Hussam El Din Kamel will also be spending the New Year’s Eve in Downtown Dubai. MENA regional manager of an e-commerce based direct selling company, El Din Kamel said: “As we approach 2024, I’m filled with anticipation for the fresh possibilities and the opportunities it brings. I eagerly look forward to celebrating the New Year at the Dubai Mall with my friends and loved ones, counting down to the conclusion of 2023 with the light and water show at the fountain, in the lead-up to the incredible grand finale that will announce the commencement of the New Year with spectacular fireworks and wishing everyone a joyful and prosperous New Year filled with achievements and moments of fulfilment.”

Keith & Sinz 4-1703770110556
Keith Dobbs and Sinziana Sava

Masquerade ball

Popular DJ-turned entrepreneur Keith Dobbs and his partner Sinziana Sava will be ringing in the New Year in style with friends and guests while hosting the annual masquerade ball at a palatial luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi.

“Every year there is no better way to celebrate with new and old friends while bringing the city together and watching the amazing Al Maryah Island fireworks,” said the British expat whose event management company has organised the New Year bash.

Musthafa and Shabnam
Musthafa and Shabnam

New Year with new baby

For Indian couple Mohammed Musthafa and Shabnam Sathar, this will be their first New Year with their first child. “Our baby, Ivaan Zaim, was born on November 4. We are thrilled to celebrate the New Year with him and our family members,” said Sathar, a medical lab technician.

Musthafa, an exhibition designer, said the couple are heading out to Fujairah for a one-day staycation this weekend. “After that we will have a big family reunion with a big group of my mother’s extended family members. My sister and cousins have planned this as our great New Year party.”

Jan Michael Ramos (centre) with his father and brother
Jan Michael Ramos (centre) with his father and brother

Wedding time

For Filipino expat Jan Michael Ramos, this New Year is going to be extra special on many counts.

“New Year is always a big deal for us Filipinos and it is time for family gatherings and celebrations. Usually, I have mini reunions with my relatives in Dubai. But this year, it is extra special because my brother, Jerome, will be getting married here on January 5 and my father has arrived here on a visit. It will also be a sentimental occasion for us because we will miss our mother who passed away two decades ago. But we are sure our Guardian Angel will be watching over and blessing the new couple,” said Ramos who works as a senior executive with an IT company.

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The Ramos family has planned a lot of activities for celebrating the New Year and the wedding along with Jeorme’s fiancé Ericka Dela Cruz.

A trip to the Winter City in Expo City Dubai will be a belated Christmas celebration with the father, Jesus Ramos, as well as an early New Year celebration for the whole family. “We will be going to different malls and other tourist locations over the weekend with our father. On New Year’s Eve, my brother and fiancé have planned a family dinner at a hotel in JLT. Some of our cousins will also be there. We will be watching the fireworks at Bluewaters Island.”

Syed Asif Zaman
Syed Asif Zaman Image Credit:

Gazans in heart

It is not just the Sharjah residents who will be cancelling the New Year celebrations in compliance with the emirate’s decision to do so in solidarity with the war-hit Gazans.

Dubai resident Syed Asif Zaman is among residents of other emirates who have also decided to mute their celebrations this time.

The Pakistani CEO of a group of companies based in Dubai usually flies out with his family to celebrate New Year outside the UAE.

“We have been to Bosnia, Turkey, Malaysia and other places. But this New Year’s Eve, my family and I have decided to forgo the usual celebrations in favour of making a meaningful contribution to alleviate the ongoing crisis in Gaza,” said the father of two teenagers.

He said the heart-wrenching situation in Gaza has compelled them to channel the funds that they would have spent on festivities towards providing the much-needed assistance to the people affected by the conflict.

“While celebrating the new year is a joyous tradition, it pales in comparison to the urgency of helping those facing dire circumstances. We hope our donation can make a small but meaningful difference in the lives of those suffering in Gaza.”

Firaz Yassine and Sylvie El Selkawy
Firas Yassine and Sylvie El Selkawy

Peaceful at home

There are also several residents like French couple Firas Yassine, a sales manager, and Sylvie El Selkawy, a public relations consultant, who prefer to welcome the New Year quietly at home.

“Dubai offers dazzling spectacles every year. Year after year, it gets better and bigger. This year, having attracted more talents and tourists, I expect bigger crowds and traffic jams. Keeping with family traditions, we prioritise quality time with our loved ones. No festivities, just a prayer for a peaceful and prosperous year for everyone,” said El Selkawy.