UAE's spectacular wedding proposals, from Burj Khalifa moment to escape room engagement

We speak to those who went the extra mile, using everything from flash mobs to helicopters, to pop the question

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A Wedding is one of the happiest events of a person's life and the moment the question is popped is one of the most memorable — especially for this bunch of brides-to-be.

In recent years, hopeful suitors have gone down on bended knees in increasingly elaborate scenarios, but the UAE is a land of superlatives and wedding proposals are no different.

We meet the couples who were asked to start their happily ever after in spectacular style, with flash mobs, helicopter rides, sky pools and escape rooms used with no expense spared.

The world’s tallest proposal

Ibrahim Zoroub, 25, pulled off a proposal of staggering heights when he asked his fiancee Kamilla Bakytova, 23, to marry him via an 828-metre projection on the Burj Khalifa.

The social media manager took his girlfriend of two years to the world’s tallest building under the ruse of filming an advert for Coca-Cola.

When the dazzling light show began, Bakytova was stunned to see the words “Kamilla, look behind you!” flash up on the building’s facade before turning to find Zoroub on bended knee with a Dh1.6 million diamond ring.

“It felt so surreal but I wanted to own it and she deserves the best,” says Zoroub. “It was completely magical and just a dream come true for both of us.

“I was really nervous beforehand but it was an incredible moment. All of our family and friends were there and Kamilla was completely stunned. Luckily she said yes.”

Kamilla Bakytova after her Burj Khalifa proposal from Ibrahim Zoroub. Photo: Ibrahim Zoroub

Zoroub planned the proposal over six days after entering a Coca-Cola competition on Instagram as part of the soft drinks brand's Real Magic campaign.

Two days later, he was stunned to be contacted by the team, who began planning the projection. He then borrowed the huge diamond ring from a jeweller and rallied friends and family to gather at the foot of the famous building.

“We both work in advertising so it was the perfect ploy,” says Zoroub. “It was such an emotional moment and the proposal was genuine and true, despite the theatrics.”

The proposal also came as a surprise to Bakytova’s family in Kazakhstan, who only learnt of Zoroub’s intentions after seeing the video, which has now been viewed on Instagram over 400,000 times.

“Luckily we’ve met each other's families since and they’ve given us their blessing,” says Zoroub. “Now we’re planning our traditional ceremony in Kazakhstan on October 15 followed by our wedding in Umm Al Quwain on November 11.

“I felt like we’d been blessed,” he says. “This was the proposal of our dreams and it didn’t cost us a single dirham.”

A No Way Out proposal

Hiren Lilwa proposed to Amrita Bhojwani in an escape room on his birthday. Photo: Amrita Bhojwani

Expectant groom Hiren Lilwa took no chances when he proposed to Amrita Bhojwani by asking her to be his wife in an escape room.

The sales director took his girlfriend and a group of his friends to NoWayOut in Jumeirah Lakes Towers for his birthday, but the surprise was all Bhojwani’s when Lilwa popped open a locked tomb to reveal a hidden engagement ring.

“We took part in a mystery theme escape room and I hid the ring in the place usually reserved for the key,” says Lilwa. “Luckily she said yes or she’d still be in there now.”

The fun-loving couple often relax with puzzles and mystery games, but Bhojwani, an entrepreneur, had no idea what was happening until the ring was on her finger.

“I was totally stunned,” says Bhojwani. “I didn’t know what he was doing when he knelt down, but it doesn’t surprise me that he would do something a bit different. That’s the way he is.”

The proposal queen

Caroline Ralston from Proposal Boutique organised a proposal using a flash mob. Photo: Proposal Boutique

Dubai resident Caroline Ralston has made a living out of love. The founder and chief executive of Proposal Boutique has planned over 400 wedding proposals and boasts a 100 per cent success rate.

A former Emirates cabin crew member, Ralston, from Cheshire in England, was inspired to set up her proposal planning business in 2014 after her now-husband surprised her during a five-day proposal in New York.

Today, the demand is extraordinary, with the majority of proposals costing about Dh40,000 and reaching as much as Dh500,000.

“Some of our proposals have been massive and there’s nowhere like the UAE for pulling off something spectacular,” she says.

“We had one client from Taiwan, Huang Chen, who pulled off three proposals in one day for his partner Susan Zhang.

“The first was during a private helicopter flight, after which they were driven to a private garden by Rolls-Royce, where the groom joined a flash mob to get down on one knee and propose for a second time.

“After that, they were taken to the Burj Al Arab in a limo where we hired an underwater dining room that we filled with her favourite flowers, a musician and deep divers that presented a MARRY ME sign underwater. He got down on one knee and proposed again with a third ring.

“Susan was stunned, but needless to say, he got three yesses.”

Angie and Shaan Keswani got engaged at The Sevens Stadium. Photo: Proposal Boutique

Other memorable proposals that Ralston has pulled off include a takeover of the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens stadium, during which loved-up Shaan Keswani proposed to his partner Angie with huge lettering taking over the pitch, and a proposal at Al Ain Zoo.

“The couple, Asif and Minal, had their first date in a zoo so we hired out the entire zoo for their private proposal,” says Ralston.

“He then got down on one knee and proposed just in time for the elephants to spray them with water, which was a nice alternative to fireworks.”

Asif and Minal's engagement at Al Ain Zoo was a throwback to their first date. Photo: Proposal Boutique

Putting a ring on it in an infinity pool

Newly-weds Yash Patel, 28, and Kinna Abhani, 27, spent Dh45,000 on a sky-high proposal on the deck of Dubai's Aura Skypool, in a soiree organised by Ralston and her team.

The entire deck of the 360-degree infinity pool was covered in hundreds of white roses, with a flower arch framing The Palm Jumeirah and Dubai skyline below.

But as Abhani swept out on to the 200-metre-high viewing platform, she wasn’t surprised in the slightest to see Patel drop to one knee and pull out a dazzling diamond.

Yash Patel and Kinna Abhani planned their engagement at Aura Skypool Dubai together. Photo: Proposal Boutique

“Yash and I planned the proposal together,” she says. “I wanted everything to be perfect and the only way to guarantee that is to be involved.

“We invited our closest family and friends, enlisted a photographer and videographer to capture the magic and enjoyed a five-star meal overlooking The Palm.

“I can see why some women might want to be surprised, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime event and I wanted it to be perfect.”

The couple, who are from Gujarat, India, met on a matrimonial app in London, where they both work in business.

After asking Abhani’s father for permission, Patel started planning the proposal in Dubai, despite neither of them having visited the city before.

“We think Dubai is such a phenomenal city and we couldn’t think of a more romantic place to start our lives together,” says Abhani. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Taking romance to new heights

Peter Philippou proposed to his partner Sarah on a helipad. Photo: Peter Philippou

Peter Philippou, 35, proposed to his girlfriend Sarah, 35, on the roof of the Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road in the centre of a helipad, which he had covered in flowers for the occasion.

“I wanted to do something really special so I pulled some strings with a friend at the hotel to have dinner on the helipad,” says Philippou, the regional manager for Voss water.

“It was overlooking the Burj Khalifa and I booked a guitarist to come and serenade us throughout a four-course meal.”

Philippou enlisted the hotel manager to drag the couple to the roof to discuss a potential "work collaboration", only to drop to one knee under the glimmer of Dubai’s skyline.

“It was really nerve-racking and she was completely stunned,” says Philippou. “It’s definitely something neither of us will ever forget.”

Updated: August 09, 2022, 7:56 AM
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