dubai fireworks 2014

Welcome, 2014!

traffic in dubai

The prospect of being stuck in traffic or waiting by the open beach in the cold did not deter most of the residents and visitors of Dubai. We were all excited to see the fireworks that would break the Guinness World Record. I mean, how often do you get to see a world record being broken live?

My family and I viewed the spectacle from our fifteenth floor apartment (which, technically is the 20th floor if you count the parking levels as well). We sat in the balcony, wrapped in warm shawls, sipping delicious hot tea made by Sophia.

dubai traffic at night

We could hear the people downstairs having a party. When the clock was about to struck 12, they began their countdown – 5…4…3…2…1…nothing. No fireworks. We laughed.

They tried the countdown again – still no fireworks at the Palm, although we could see fireworks behind the Marina buildings. On their third attempt at the countdown, Burj al Arab began its fireworks; the Palm remained dark and quiet. We began assuming there might have been some technical issues. Turned out that they didn’t get the clearance (security reasons) to start well until 12:20 am.

dubai breaking world guinness record

The traffic has finally cleared, but since it’s a few minutes past midnight, some people decided to stop and watch from the bridge.

dubai fireworks 2014

dubai fireworks 2014

That was when the fireworks finally began. I was able to take only one picture, during the first few seconds when it all started, because I was too mesmerized by the beauty of it that I didn’t want to waste a second more behind the lens.

“Dubai saw 2014 in unforgettable style last night, with a successful attempt at the world record for the largest ever fireworks display.

Ten months in planning, over 500,000 fireworks were used during the display which lasted around six minutes, with Guinness World Records adjudicators on hand to confirm that a new record had been set.

Covering a distance of over 94km (61.6 miles) of the city’s seafront, the display incorporated some of Dubai’s top landmarks, including Palm Jumeirah, World Islands, the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab.

The spectacle’s final salvo of fireworks created an artificial “sunrise” along the seafront, with the highest fireworks reaching more than one kilometre in height.” (Source: Guinness World Record)

I’ve seen several pictures and watched Youtube videos of the fireworks the next morning, but really, none of them come close to the amazing sight of watching it live. It was truly breathtaking!

I have also been expecting all the negative feedback from other people (majority of them either do not even live here or have never even step foot in this city). Whenever the city goes and does something grand and extravagant, these people immediately turn into human rights activists and environmentalists, reminding the city of modern slavery, the poverty in several countries, and world hunger. Oh, and the fact that Abu Dhabi bailed Dubai out of debt during the recession. Yep, nobody forgets that.

Remember, Dubai runs completely on trade and tourism. And while I do not agree with some of its strategies, like allowing night clubs and alcohol in an Islamic city or the salary discrimination based on a person’s nationality, both the public and private sectors are working tirelessly to make the city as appealing to foreign investors and tourists as possible. The UAE is a very small country (you can travel from one corner to the other in one day) that is working hard to make a name in the world.

And you guys, Dubai (and the UAE as a whole) is extremely generous in terms of providing financial and medical help to countries that need it. I did not know the extent of it until I made an Emirati friend whose husband works with the armed forces. This army officer regularly gets deployed to provide medical assistance to war-torn places. Several of these charity work and financial aid are kept low profile and not broadcasted in the media. I had a long chat with my friend, and since then, I have this renewed sense of respect for this country and its people.

So when a city, as young as Dubai, decides to spend some of its own money on fireworks as a marketing tool to grab the world’s attention and boost tourism, we should sit back and enjoy the spectacle.




  1. Thank you for the greetings, Nadia! A blessed and prosperous 2014 for you too!

    Wow, you are so lucky to have witnessed such spectacular display right at the comfort of your own home! It is so much better when after watching you are a few steps away from your bed to recharge hahhaa.

    Around four years ago, we watched the fireworks in Burj Khalifa and it took us about 4 hours before we can get out of the parking lot. We vowed never again!

    1. Kero, that same year (four years ago) my family and I were on our way back from Al Ain. We were right on Shaikh Zayed road near the Burj Khalifa just 30 minutes after midnight. We were stuck in the middle of the road for 2 hours.

      But taking 4 hours to get out of the parking lot sounds crazier 😀

  2. Here in the US most people have either a “that’s cool” or “yay another tall building” response to most things Dubai does, so I haven’t heard as much of the hate but you bring up very valid points. Many countries spend tons of money on things like this (I remember watching a documentary last year about just how much work/money the New York ball drop takes). It’s very interesting to hear the perspective of someone who actually *lives* there though, which is another reason your blog is so fun to read! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Maria! It’s nice to know that there are a lot more people who react positively to the developments of this young country.

    1. Yes, it was an incredible experience, ‘liya! To be able to sit comfortably at home (in my pajamas) and not worry about the traffic jam 🙂

  3. And happy shifting to new place, Nadoo. Please try to capture your surroundings and post it up if you feel okay, so I can see where you live in Dubai. Must be beautiful place. The terrace. 🙂

    1. We have shifted, alhumdulillah. It turned out to be a long (took 3 weeks to settle in!) and tiring (had to shop every single day) process, but I’m very happy now. The new post is up!

  4. Great post sis 🙂 When I was there I found Emiratis extremely generous mashaaAllah… I like your perspective as well. I also find some of what goes on there really insane, and I dont know how much the fireworks cost but once in a while as a publicity endeavour.. Why not? Egypt should really think about that.. All tourist places are nasty, dirty and run down… They think they can only make money attracting ppl who want to lie half naked on the beach and drink alcohol… Puh-leeeeez!!

    Love & miss u to bits x

    1. Thank you, sis. I’m sure the fireworks cost a fortune, hence the outrage from some people, but it’s also drawing in a lot of tourists so all is well. Too bad Egypt isn’t paying more attention to maintain its tourist places.

  5. New year celebration has always been extravaganza and costly. Rationale: It happens only once a year, so let’s put the thinking aside and enjoy the night. At least that’s how the younger generation would react to such issue when raised.

    Anyway, what interests me more is the pictures. Did you snap these pictures yourself, Nadia? I have always failed to take good pictures at night. It didn’t come out well at all. Can you share any tips?

    Happy new year to you and dear Masood… 🙂

    1. Yes, Atie, I took the pictures myself. It’s very easy, actually. All you need is to select the night mode of your camera or increase the ISO settings. Then you must absolutely have something stable on which to put the camera to prevent the shake when you press the shutter.

  6. Well said Nadia! Love the positivity. Quite fitting for the new year 🙂 The fireworks look incredible. I love shooting fireworks, so I only wish I were there!

  7. hello, again, Nadia… hope your New year has started out well. here’s wishing it’ll be better than 2013, ahaha. sana ikaw ay nasa mabuti… 🙂

    hey, just by looking at your photos, i can imagine you were at a very high and majestic place. ahaha, nice feeling, being close to the horizon in the midst of a cheerful and dressed crowd, overlooking the highways and even the buildings… sounds like there was a fun, clean revelry, hoho.

    btw, i hope you did not spend most of your time elbowing people for some good angles for your pics, ha… you socialized, ate well and had some real fun, okay? your ate talking here, hahaha.

    hello, Nadia. hi to Masood, your mom and sisses. hope 2014 will be prosperous. hugs… 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! Haven’t been in touch with you for so long. How’d you been? I missed you. Looks like 2014 is your busiest year so far 🙂

      “being close to the horizon in the midst of a cheerful and dressed crowd” — the crowd that I was in the midst of were in their pajamas, haha.

      1. oh, thanks. 2013 was tiring, i guess. not as bad as 2012, though. i hope 2014 will be better than both, ahaha.

        oh! they must be terribly rich people then, haha. 😉 btw, Dubai is really known for its Great Gatsbyish features, di ba? as you said, they build the biggest, weirdest and gayest things on earth, ahaha. glad you’re enjoying yourself and that the people in your midst have tolerance enough for the geeky girl with the camera, hihi. 🙂

        p.s. am also very fond of fireworks show, the one where they use lots of apparatus and computers, hoho. that is why i wrote about New Year in the barrio (Salubong post), to pay homage to the ancient, archaic and terribly old way of lighting fireworks of days gone by, haha. peace! 😉

        1. “…people in your midst have tolerance enough for the geeky girl with the camera” They are so used to me now that they don’t really bother anymore 😀

          “…ancient, archaic and terribly old way of lighting fireworks of days gone by…” Oh, this I must read!

  8. Every country has it’s plus and minuses. How many people in USA have health care? Yet they can spend billions in Iraq for decades but it’s Dubai that’s singled out for fireworks. Enjoy the show!

  9. Salam!

    Wow!!! I am mesmerized by the beautiful fireworks. I would also want to be part of a world record breaking event if I could. I’m glad that you enjoyed the moment rather than take pics, I sometimes forget to do that and end up sitting behind the lens and later realize that I should have enjoyed the moment live with my husband/family/friends rather than through the lens =/. All in all, thanks for sharing.

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