The Great Debate: Should you stay in or go out on New Year's Eve?

We pit a homebody against a party person to discuss the pros and cons of leaving the house on December 31

epa07255816 Fireworks illuminate the sky around Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, during New Year's 2019 celebrations in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 01 January 2019.  EPA/ALI HAIDER
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Every week, we find two people with opposing (or at least different) views on a topic to discuss the day's big (and small) issues. This week, we're asking two of The National's staffers about what they prefer to do on the biggest night of the year.

The question is: should you stay in or go out on New Year's Eve?

Nyree McFarlane: Stay at home. Great expectations lead to great disappointments and no other night out is as emotionally loaded as New Year's Eve …

Janani Jayabal: "La vita e una festa", or life is a party, and what better excuse to celebrate it than on New Year's Eve? It is the day many people most look forward to in the year. And when living in the UAE, when Dubai is consistently rated as one of the hottest places to be on New Year's Eve, you must get up and get out there.

NM: But it's precisely because Dubai is one of the places to be on December 31 that I opt to stay at home. With demand comes price: last year, Five Guys in The Dubai Mall charged Dh1,500 for an outdoor table. You got unlimited burgers, sure, but the price tag's really down to the view of Burj Khalifa and its fireworks. I'd rather stay at home, flip my own burger and drive along to Satwa or somewhere away from the crowds where I can still see the (admittedly fabulous) firework display. I then skip the traffic and get home by 12.10am and so feel well rested on the first day of the new year, ready to take on the next 12 months.

Five Guys has opened its first location in Abu Dhabi in Marina Mall. Courtesy Five Guys *** Local Caption ***  al16au-BITES-fiveguys.jpg

JJ: But how is that fun? You can do that on any of the other 364 days of the year. Plus, you miss out on all the buzz and the opportunities to meet new people from different parts of the world. 

NM: I can meet people from across the globe on any night of the year in the UAE: it's a cosmopolitan place.

JJ: Yeah, but New Year's Eve is the time when every venue goes all out and by staying at home you miss out on decorations and a vibing, sparkling city. A little bit of planning can also go a long way in escaping the unwanted traffic.

NM: You make good points – I guess it comes down to whether you like crowds. To be honest, as each year passes, I find myself ascending the boring scale. Two years ago, I sat down to watch a movie on New Year's Eve, planning to go to the roof of my apartment at midnight, from which I can see both Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab. I then woke up, having fallen asleep on my couch, and it was 1am. I felt like a bit of a loser that night, but I didn't spend a dirham. 

JJ: Another reason being out on the big night is superior is because you never miss the night's firework displays! Although, I have missed NYE fireworks before, albeit elsewhere. Once I flew to Riga in Latvia as it happened to be one of the cheapest places to fly from Germany on NYE (no wonder, because it was about -20°C). The weather was so foggy we could only hear the fireworks – fail! And then once, my flight to Kuala Lumpur got delayed, but the captain made sure to land at 00:00 and everyone on the plane did the countdown together. They brought around celebratory drinks for everyone – long live Emirates. So, yes, plans can go wrong, but these can turn into memorable moments, too.

As we ring in 2020, I'm happy to simply sit on my couch and watch a movie

NM: I've been out-out on New Year's Eve twice and each time was a bit of a let down. We couldn't get a taxi, the buses were too crowded, friends got over-emotional because they felt despondent about the year past, while they were also worried about the year ahead.

JJ: What's your best memory of a New Year's Eve, then?  

NM: Probably the turn of the millennium. Word on the street as we moved into 2000 was it might just create havoc by breaking all the coding in our computers. I sat on a beach in New Zealand, far from technology, and had a bonfire with family and friends. Maybe the thought that the world was at risk of imploding at midnight made us all extra mindful of getting on.

JJ: That does sound like an excellent night.

NM: But as we ring in 2020, I'm happy to simply sit on my couch and watch a movie. I'll go out the night after and pay about a quarter of the price for everything.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – January 1: Fireworks display near the Burj Al Arab hotel on January 1, 2008 to welcome the New Year in Dubai. (Photo by Pawan Singh /Abu Dhabi Media Company)

JJ: Well, what can I say? At the end of the day I think it is important to do things and be with people that make us feel utterly happy and blessed. If you find that by chatting to strangers on a night out or by spending it with your grumpy cat on your couch at home, to each their own.

NM: For me, it's actually a grumpy dog. He's 18, blind, deaf and has about as much energy as me. What are you doing this year?

JJ: Awww. This year, I am feeling in high spirits and so want to go out and celebrate the turn of the decade with my sister and my closest friends in Dubai. As usual, we have planned very little, but I am excited to find out what adventures await us. You are welcome to join us – and then you can watch a movie on the first day of 2020. It can wait, can't it?

NM: I'll have to check in with my geriatric dog and see what he feels up to doing.