Residents and visitors gear up for New Year’s Eve celebrations across the country

While plenty of people living in the Northern Emirates are planning to ring in the new year in Dubai, others are happy to celebrate closer to home.
Some residents are planning to stay away from the crowds that will gather in town centres and see in the new year in the peace of the desert. Jeff Topping / The National
Some residents are planning to stay away from the crowds that will gather in town centres and see in the new year in the peace of the desert. Jeff Topping / The National

The glitz and excitement – not to mention the fireworks – of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dubai is proving to be a big draw for residents of the Northern Emirates, with many planning to make the trip down Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road for the occasion.

Despite police warnings that at least 1.5 million visitors were expected to pack into Downtown Dubai on December 31, the chance to experience the last day of the year among excited crowds at the Burj Khalifa was too much to resist for people in Ajman and Umm Al Quwain.

“Dubai celebrates a lot and Ajman doesn’t have any celebrations for the new year,” said Sama Abdulkareem, who has lived in the emirate for six years.

Omid Agah, a 21-year-old Iranian business student, has lived in Ajman for the past decade and travels each year to Dubai to see friends because of the lack of festivities at home,

“I will go to Dubai Mall because everybody I know will go to celebrate there. No one celebrates in Ajman,” said Mr Agah, who added if the crowds got too much he might have a last-minute change of plans.

However, the UAE’s smallest emirate won’t be completely without revellers on the big night. Rami Kaseem, a 29-year-old Palestinian accountant, only moved to Ajman from Abu Dhabi on Saturday and will be ringing the new year in his new home emirate.

“I will have dinner with my family and friends in any place in Ajman, because I am new here and want to discover the city.”

Lt Col Shoaib Kajor, director of traffic and patrols at Ajman Police, said there were no official celebrations planned. “Residents have their special celebrations, but our role is to regulate traffic and prevent traffic jams,” he said.

Mohamed Fathi, who lives in neighbouring Umm Al Quwain, said a lack of planned events means he leaves the least populous emirate and heads to Dubai each year. “Dubai has more people and places unlike UAQ,” said the 34-year-old accountant.

Amen Lakhdari, 21, a Moroccan aircraft engineering student, agreed that the best place to celebrate was Downtown Dubai. “I will go with my friends to have a dinner in Downtown Dubai, which is the best place to celebrate.”

Mr Lakhdari said he enjoyed living in UAQ, but there were no celebrations held there.

People living in Sharjah will not have to fight for space to watch fireworks with more than a million other partygoers as a display has been organised along the emirate’s Al Majaz Waterfront.

Lana Mwaffaq, from Lebanon, planned to celebrate with her husband and eight-year-old twin daughters at Al Majaz.

“Last year we spent it at home, we had family members visiting from our home country. This year we are going to the waterfront, our small family will enjoy the fireworks and the girls will have a great time riding their bicycles.”

Suzan said she planned to stay in Sharjah on New Year’s Eve to avoid traffic jams in other emirates. “We are a group of 17 friends,” said the 24-year-old from the UK. “We want to have an early dinner together then go down to the beach, we want to avoid traffic jams this year, it’s going to be a fun and relaxing evening with friends.”

For people living in the east coast emirate of Fujairah, New Year’s Eve will be a low key affair spent with friends and family.

“Last year I attended the fireworks at Burj Khalifa, this year I’m planning to spend it here in Fujairah,” said Noor Abulqasem, 31, from Egypt. “We will celebrate by the sea with lots of delicious Egyptian food and plenty of fun.”

Umar Kalir, 36, from India was looking forward to seeing in the new year with his family. ”I will spend this year’s celebration with my family. I didn’t see them for almost two years and they recently arrived in Fujairah.”

For expatriates, being so far from home can be tough, so Sarah Aparente, from the Philippines, was planning a Skype chat with her loved ones.

“Being away from your family is a very hard especially during celebrations,” she said.

Published: December 28, 2014 04:00 AM


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