Dubai Shopping Festival hosts nightly drone displays as UAE's love for aerial shows soars

The buzzing light routines are taking place at JBR and Bluewaters Island, helping visitors to delve into the nation's past, present and future

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Dubai Shopping Festival is in full swing, running until January 29.

Raffles and retail therapy aside, drone shows are a big draw across the city. To celebrate, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment is hosting two drone shows every night.

They are being performed at The Beach, JBR, at 7pm and on Bluewaters Island at 10pm.

"The two shows are united by an overarching concept to explore conceptual ideas surrounding technology, robotics and the future, with an intricate network of light from the aerial drones to develop the theme and illustrate the story of Dubai,” organisers say.

Each show lasts for five minutes and viewers are provided with augmented reality headsets. The first follows a day in the life of a tourist, encompassing Dubai International Airport, famous sites of the shopping festival and fireworks. The second is set in the metaverse, giving users a glimpse of how Dubai could look in 2040.

Scroll through the gallery above to see drone shows hosted by the UAE over the years

The spectacle is not the first time the Emirates has put on captivating drone shows.

In Abu Dhabi, the ongoing Sheikh Zayed Festival opened in Al Wathba with a show featuring hundreds of drones forming moving images depicting President Sheikh Mohamed, UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the late President, Sheikh Khalifa. The drones also depicted falcons and messages in Arabic.

Last year, Dubai Shopping Festival ran two daily drone shows set to Rashed Al-Majed and RedOne’s Ya Salam Ya Dubai, the Expo 2020 anthem This is Our Time and David Guetta’s global hit Titanium featuring Sia.

Expo 2020 Dubai regularly hosted drone shows, too, with the robots taking to the sky in the form of shape-shifting bright golden dots at the China pavilion, changing from leaves and trees to stars and butterflies, as well as during the countdown to 2022 and a formation tracing the number 50 during National Day celebrations last December.

In 2019, ABOVE: Aerial Photography Exhibition at Manarat Al Saadiyat showcased an array of urban and natural landscapes captured by drones and aircraft. That same year, Dubai Police set a new Guinness World Record for most consecutive formations made by the same set of drones displaying an image of Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

In 2018, the Abu Dhabi skyline came to life with 500 Intel “shooting star” drones. The LED drones hovered several metres above visitors and lit up the sky with the Year of Zayed logo during the Mother of the Nation Festival.

Updated: December 27, 2022, 12:54 PM