Record-breaking fireworks and laser shows lit up the night skies across the UAE to welcome the New Year.
Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai became the showstopper, as the world’s tallest tower shone brightly in a dazzling array of colours and lights on the stroke of midnight.
Hundreds of thousands braved the traffic to claim the best spot in Downtown at Dubai Mall as early as 4pm as vantage points for The Fountain and Burj Khalifa turned into a sea of people wearing glitter and glam for the occasion.
Pyrotechnic displays were set up across the emirates, including from Atlantis The Palm, La Mer, Bluewaters Island and Burj Al Arab.
As the first new year’s celebrations without any coronavirus restrictions in place, and with perfect weather playing out in favour of outdoor fun, families turned out in huge numbers to join the festivities.
Yas Island in Abu Dhabi offered dual fun for onlookers with fireworks displays at 9pm and at midnight, while Al Maryah Island and the Corniche also had fireworks at midnight.
Global Village wooed one of the biggest crowds with seven sets of fireworks coinciding with seven time zones across the world.
In Al Wathba, a 40-minute drive from Abu Dhabi, a 40-minute fireworks display and show featuring 3,000 drones broke a record in volume, duration and form.
Ras Al Khaimah hosted another record-breaking fireworks show featuring pyro drones, nano lights, colours and shapes along the 4.7km long waterfront between Al Marjan Island and Al Hamra Village.
Across the UAE, beach clubs and bars, restaurants and food chains, public parks and shopping malls were packed as people lapped up pricey as well as pocket-friendly dining and entertainment options to ring in the New Year.
Hope for a better year
From having a safe and healthy year to hopes of finding new jobs and losing weight topped some of the New Year wishes of residents.
Indian couple Vinay Jain and his wife Rupali Jain, both IT professionals in Abu Dhabi, who were at Yas Bay to ring-in the New Year, hoped for a safe and prosperous 2023.
“I want to learn Arabic this year,” said Mr Jain.
Rupali said she is aiming to lose weight in 2023. “I hope it won’t remain just a wish,” she said.
Her mother Bala Jain was visiting Abu Dhabi to celebrate the New Year with her daughter and eight-year old grandson, Ritvik.
“I want everyone to enjoy peace and happiness this year. We had a tough few years before of Covid,” said Ms Jain who lives in Delhi, India.
Joao Troncao and Marta Lourenco from Portugal moved to the UAE two weeks ago wants to make the country their home this year.
“We hardly know this place. Everything feels new here. We want to make this our home in 2023,” said Mr Troncao, who works as a creative director.
For Kartik Raina, 19, who is pursuing an economics degree at the University of Bath, celebrating the New Year with parents in Abu Dhabi was special.
“It is nice to hang out with family and friends,” he said.
“My wish for the New Year is to get an investment banking internship.”
His friend Ishaan Kumar, 17, a Grade 12 student of the Dubai International Academy, said fitness and admission to a leading college are his New Year wishes.
“2022 was a good year for me. I want to hit the gym more often. Also, I hope I will get into a good university in India.”
Turkish couple Eldeniz and Yaroslava Kurean, who have a 3-year old daughter called Sophie, wished for peace and prosperity in 2023.
“We wanted to enjoy this weather and see the fireworks. Abu Dhabi is a great place for family and we want to just say happy and healthy this year,” said Mr Kurean, an IT professional.