When in Dubai for New Year celebrations, there is only one thing you should do… you should see the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa. Sadly this year they announced that the fireworks were cancelled and were being replaced with a light and lazer show.
I cannot tell you how disappointed I was. The only other time I have seen it there was a fire at the Address and half the fireworks were covered by the black smoke billowing from the burning building.
I was even more disappointed for Mum who would have never seen a firework display of that magnitude before.That said, we were all rather excited to see what this lazer light show had in store for us. The Burj has been lit up for so many things that it could only be bigger and better, and that is something we were keen to see.
My fabulous friend Justine has an apartment with basically unobstructed views of the Burj and kindly asked us to join her and her flatmate for a small gathering that night. Nothing big and loud, just a few friends getting together to watch the show. There was naturally some food and beverages too. We never really get to do “small” like we plan… there was enough food to feed an army!!!
The walk over to them wasn’t too bad on one hand, but not great on another. Because the organisers are so good at setting up different viewing areas, a lot of people loiter on the back streets, so the sections that are not lit are quite uncomfortable to walk down. I know Dubai is a safe city but no woman feels 100% secure walking past large groups of men who stare a lot, irrelevant of where they are or the ethnicity of the groups. Thankfully my scowl is well honed after being here so long and Mum’s is the Platinum Level of “don’t mess with me” looks having been a teacher for years!
We got there in one piece, stopped at African & Eastern (or MMI – whichever it is!) and stocked up on the drinks we needed but didn’t want to carry, and then were ready to go!
The one thing everyone commented on, both on the night and afterwards, is actually how quiet the streets were. Yes, there were still people everywhere but I honestly do not believe that as many people turned up to see the show. Last time I saw it the pavements were heaving both on the main Boulevard and on the roads surrounding it. Not so much this time.
Is it that there are less people here now or is it that the lack of fireworks changed people’s interest in schlepping along and spending an evening in Downtown? We speculated a lot but really no one can tell. Maybe a bit of both was the conclusion.
After a few more drinks, mountains more food, an interesting half hour shouting at a TV remote to try and find “Dubai 92” and it was time for the selfies on the balcony to try and get onto the live YouTube stream with the hashtags #LightUp2018 and #MyDowntownNewYear – which we never did get chosen for but made a really good effort.
Even the cats, who have their own Instagram page (George & Zeus) tried but nothing!!
A good hour had passed by and we realised we were on the final stretch before the show. Excitement mounted. Champagne was prepared, and positions were taken on the balcony.
Then the countdown started…
And then the show…
In case you wanted to know more about the Year of Zayed initiative, you can read here.
Now comes the point where I tell you what I thought…
I so wanted to be wowed by this and blown away with amazement. Sadly, not even close.
Mum loved it. She has never seen the Burj light up like that. I am so pleased that she did. I would have felt terrible had she been disappointed with her New Year’s Eve show.
I remember the awe when I first saw it covered with moving images and colours too. But after having lived in the general vicinity of it for the last 4yrs, and seeing everything from flags fluttering in support of National Days, a panther or whatever climbing it for a Cartier promotion, something similar for Jaguar, and various seemingly random colour displays, it just was a let down. It was even lit up underneath the fireworks on the the 2015/2016 display that I saw.
As for the lazers lights, they didn’t do anything too spectacular unless I missed something?
The whole thing was pretty, but a let down.
There was no drama, there was no bangs, there was no smell of gun powder or whatever it is in fireworks. There was no conclusion. Not even a fanfare when it was announced that the world record had been claimed.
The next time I am in Dubai for New Year’s Eve, I am going to book myself into a hotel somewhere like the Westin and have a big meal and then watch the fireworks from the beach. If they are still there. What if the whole of Dubai is phasing out firework shows? That would suck.
The best part of the evening by far was the lovely people that we got to spend it with. Thank you so much again Justine and Karen for letting us come over and hang out!