UAE revellers welcome New Year in style at spectacular displays

Queen Elizabeth 2 hotel guests enjoy Gala dinner and fireworks while others choose a desert camping trip to see in 2024

UAE marks the new year with fireworks and drone displays

UAE marks the new year with fireworks and drone displays
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From spectacular firework displays to mesmerising drone shows to illuminate the night sky, it was a New Year’s Eve to remember across the UAE as 2024 was welcomed in with true Emirati style.

Fireworks dazzled thousands of spectators who turned out at the Corniche in Abu Dhabi, while the Burj Khalifa display in Dubai signalled the end of 2023 with its trademark annual show.

Few cities around the world can match the firework displays seen across Dubai, while 800 drones took to the skies for two displays at 8pm and 10pm at Jumeirah Beach Residence and Bluewaters, with synchronised lights projected on to Ain Dubai, the world’s highest observation wheel.

Although New Year’s Eve celebrations and firework displays were banned in Sharjah, as a mark of respect to those in Gaza, there were plenty of other places across the country to see in 2024 with the traditional pyrotechnics.

New Year’s celebrations across UAE - in pictures

At Global Village, seven separate firework displays went off on the hour from 8pm, with another display for India's celebration at 10.30pm.

Revellers poured into planned events across Dubai with the Queen Elizabeth 2 floating hotel in Port Rashid proving a prime location for some.

“On New Year’s Day you’ll see all the photographs of the celebrations from around the world and Dubai always features prominently, so it is a busy time for us,” said Ferghal Purcell, General Manager of Queen Elizabeth 2 Hotel, where two special events were being hosted to bring in the New Year at the Queen’s Grill restaurant and at the Pavilion deck.

“At 11.45 I walked guests down the port side of the ship to a privately reserved area to watch the New Year come in.

It hasn't been too difficult selling tickets as the views from there are spectacular
Sid Sattanathan, general manager Radisson Hotel, Damac Hills

“We thought about it long and hard and it's been very well received.

“Our guests could go out on to the private yacht club to view the New Year and then all our in house guests went out on to the pavilion deck to watch the fireworks.

“We knew people wanted to go somewhere nice and get dressed up, be treated like a VIP and enjoy a special celebration at midnight – we tried to give them that experience.

“The QE2 has a great vista of the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa and elsewhere, Dubai has one of the biggest celebrations in the world now and people want to have a good view.”

Elsewhere in Dubai, guests enjoying a special gala dinner at The Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah were treated to a live performance by Sting, and a front-row seat for some of the best fireworks in the Emirate.

Sid Sattanathan, general manager of the Radisson Hotel in Damac Hills, said the recently extended rooftop Peruvian restaurant – Issei – proved the perfect place to watch the displays unfold across Dubai.

“We sold out our 70-seater restaurant very early, which is an indication of how popular the venue has become for New Year’s Eve,” he said.

“It hasn't been too difficult selling tickets as the views from there are spectacular.

“Last year, we only opened in the middle of December so it was a relatively new venue. But now people know where we are and the great vantage point. It was an easy ticket to sell.

“From Issei, we have a good view of the fireworks from Burj Khalifa, from Global Village, Town Square and also from Expo and even as far as JBR.

“Most of our guests tonight have been from neighbouring communities, and it has been popular with people who have not wanted to fight the traffic to get in and out of the city.”

At beachfront destination Zero Gravity, a festival saw live music and DJ sets from Rudimental, Sigala, and Nathan Dawe into the early hours of January 1.

While over at McGettigan's venues across Dubai, many had been sold out weeks in advance of December 31.

There were few seats available at some of Abu Dhabi’s most popular hotspots too, with the Rosewood Hotel’s BB Social New Year’s Eve celebration fully booked well before Christmas.

“This year we noticed people in the capital were more excited and organised when it came to bookings,” said Tara Sillery, a spokeswoman for BB Social.

“In Dubai, the trend was more about booking on the day where we saw a surge in last-minute reservations.”

Desert camping

Not everyone was keen to join in the fast-paced festivities in the big cities, choosing a quieter family affair to see in the New Year instead.

Rhiannon Downie Hurst, 42, decided to ring in 2024 by camping in the Al Qudra desert with her husband and son, six.

“I surprised the family as one of their Christmas presents to arrange a desert camping trip for them,” said Ms Downie Hurst, who is British.

“We didn’t want to go out and party to watch the fireworks this year so decided to do something quieter and spend some time just the three of us under the stars in a peaceful environment.”

Ms Downie Hurst used a company to arrange the evening for them, including entertainment.

“It was a beautiful tepee camp with a projector so we could watch movies and play board games so it was really special.”

Updated: December 31, 2023, 9:38 PM