UAE celebrates New Year with fireworks and world records

Marathon 13 hours of celebrations at Expo 2020 as Dubai unites globe in welcoming New Year

A spectacular night of fireworks brought an end to 2021 and welcomed the New Year in style across the UAE.

No other nation does New Year's celebrations quite like the UAE, with Dubai heralding 2022 with the usual night of colour and noise, as fireworks and a light show dazzled onlookers in Downtown Dubai, where Burj Khalifa took centre stage at the stroke of midnight.

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We are lucky to be in Dubai as we get to party twice in one night
Kingkade Niyomsen

Pyrotechnic displays were triggered across the emirate, from Global Village to La Mer, Al Seef and Burj Al Arab and all the way to Bluewaters Island.

Those on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island were treated to two displays at 9pm and again at midnight, with another fantastic display launched at the Corniche as the clock struck 12.

Al Maryah Island and Saadiyat Beach Club also joined the party with spectacular displays of their own.

Sheikh Zayed Festival's New Year's Eve celebrations in Abu Dhabi saw a 40-minute fireworks display that set records for volume, duration and form.

A giant drone show that lit up the skies of Al Wathba included 2,022 drones that formed a portrait of Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father.

It was a special night in Ras Al Khaimah, where two world records were set during an astonishing 12-minute display.

The two records were for the most remote-operated multirotor and drone-launching fireworks, and the highest altitude multirotor and drone firework display.

At midnight at Expo 2020, a huge glittering ball descended from the roof of Al Wasl Plaza, accompanied by live DJ sets from Dimitri Vegas and Armin Van Buuren.

Pockets of noise and celebrations scattered across Expo 2020 could be heard throughout the day as pavilions rang in the New Year in unison with their home nations.

The party started in the South Pacific exhibitions, with New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga being the first to enter 2022 at 3pm.

The Southern Hemisphere followed, with an explosion of silver ticker tape and golden balloons spelling out 2022 outside the pavilions.

New Year's Eve celebrations in Abu Dhabi - in pictures

The Solomon Islands was one of the first nations to celebrate the New Year at 5pm.

“It was very strange celebrating the New Year on the other side of the planet,” said Dennis Marita, director of the Solomon Islands pavilion.

“Being away from family is tough, of course. I have a new granddaughter and four children.

“We usually have a barbecue with family and friends. At midnight, there is a lot of noise, there are no fireworks, as they are expensive, but we have lots of fun.

“There are different ways to celebrate — some have fun, others play jokes on each other, like throw mud and water about.

“It is a lot of fun and we all try to get together with our families.”

Dennis Marita from the Solomon Islands, one of the first nations to celebrate 2022 at 5pm in Dubai. Nicholas Webster / The National

Celebrating New Year's at Expo 2020 was the chance of a lifetime for many, with parties and special events planned until the early hours of January 1.

But not all pavilions participated in the celebrations, with the UK exhibition being one of several to close early, shutting its doors at 8pm.

Crowds were substantially thinner than National Day only four weeks earlier, possibly due to rising cases of Covid-19 and the threat of strong weather.

Parts of Dubai had been hit by torrential downpours earlier in the day.

Those who did attend were offered free access to Expo 2020 on New Year’s Day — a public holiday in the UAE.

As the clock chimed 9pm, it was Thailand's turn to join in the festivities, as Bangkok is three hours ahead of the UAE.

Kingkade Niyomsen from Bangkok said the celebration was extra special and would leave a lasting memory.

“We are lucky to be in Dubai as we get to party twice in one night,” said Ms Niyomsen, who celebrated outside the Thailand pavilion where a countdown was beamed on a big screen.

“We are far from home, but being in Dubai at this time has made it feel special.

“It has been a great atmosphere here all day and we will try to stay up to celebrate as many New Years as possible. We only get to do this once.”

Nations celebrating placed gold 2022 balloons outside their pavilions. Nicholas Webster / The National

Drummers took to the stage at the Thailand pavilion as the countdown towards 2022 began, followed by a live performance of traditional Thai dancers dressed as dragons.

Kasititorn Pooparadai, director of the Thailand pavilion, said special attention had been paid to the celebrations.

“The show we have put on was extra special to celebrate the New Year,” she said.

“It is difficult being away from our families, but I spoke with my family earlier today to wish them well before it got too late in Thailand.

“Usually, in the days before Covid, New Year is very special in Bangkok — particularly for young people.

“Everyone gets together and it is a big party, with fireworks and a family meal — also, it is a great time to get us all together, but not this year.

“We can only hope 2022 is a better year for everyone.”

New Year's Eve celebrations around the world - in pictures

Updated: December 31st 2021, 9:20 PM