Category Archives: Dubai

Dubai breaks Guinness World Record with largest fireworks display

DUBAI // Breaking the world record for the largest fireworks display will showcase the emirate as a destination and help to attract tourists, experts say.

The extravaganza marked “the end of a momentous year for Dubai in which the undeniable highlight was the UAE’s winning bid to host World Expo 2020”, said Dr Ahmad Belhoul, chief executive of Strategy and Tourism Sector Development at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

He said there was no doubt about the benefits the New Year’s Eve shows would bring.

“The pyrotechnic displays at Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and at Dubai Festival City all have a part to play in ensuring that Dubai is established in the minds of residents and visitors as one of the most exciting and entertaining destinations in the world in which to see in the new year,” Dr Belhoul said.

With the record-breaking display being televised around the world, he said the celebrations would “not only attract thousands of visitors to Dubai and make a significant contribution to our travel and hospitality sectors, but will also … help to attract new travellers to our city for generations to come”.

Stephan Schupbach, general manager of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel on the Palm, said the fireworks display was “fantastic” for the man-made island and the emirate. The hotel had 1,200 guests and 2,000 visitors at its various outlets to see in the new year.

“Dubai is an expensive destination but as long as we can continue to offer these kinds of events, it all helps,” Mr Schupbach said.

One family had travelled from San Francisco for just three days for the spectacular, he said.

More than 78,000 fireworks had to successfully explode to beat the record set by Kuwait last year. The crescent of the Palm alone had more than 100,000 fireworks set up, plus 300,000 spread across the island and the World Islands for the six-minute show.

Though Guinness World Record officials confirmed it was indeed the largest fireworks display in the world, its team was inspecting the sites on Wednesday to do a final count of how many fireworks exploded.

But not everyone was able to enjoy the show. Elizabeth McAllister, a resident of the Palm, encountered chaos. She bought a ticket to Sandance at Atlantis before the record attempt had been announced and in hindsight she wishes she had not.

“I drove off the Palm to go to the American University of Dubai to get the shuttle bus. I boarded the bus at 8 and by 11, was still sitting on the bus and hadn’t even passed my own house,” she said. “We’d driven 5 kilometres. We knew we weren’t even going to make it in time for the fireworks so we just got off the bus and walked to my house, but the fireworks were half an hour late so everyone had already done with celebrating by the time they went off.

“If I’d realised this was going to be happening the same night as Sandance I’d never have bought a ticket.”

The event’s choreographer, Phil Grucci, said safety was of paramount concern, which led to the show being delayed.

“There were a few traffic snags on the Palm so we erred on the side of safety and there were other shows going on at the time anyway, so we decided if we couldn’t do it at midnight we’d do it at the next available slot, 12.30, to allow for the complications to clear out.

“The first objective was that not only was it entertainment but it was safe for the people of Dubai.”

Though it took 10 months of planning, it will take only 11 days for 200 pyrotechnicians to dismantle the display.

“It was a great honour to produce what we produced last night and it’s well deserved for the people of Dubai,” Mr Grucci said.

Fireworks were also a highlight of the celebrations in Sharjah. At Al Majaz Waterfront, a laser clock counted down to midnight, with a huge display highlighting the evening for tourists and residents.

Read more:
Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | on Facebook



820 metre Dubai Mall-Metro link the longest of its kind

Dubai Mall’s 820-metre walkway is step in right direction for shoppers

DUBAI // An air-conditioned pavement in the sky measuring close to a kilometre in length has become the latest feature at Dubai Mall.

The glass-enclosed walkway, with its 10 airport-style travelators, runs from the second floor of the world’s biggest shopping mall to the Burj Khalifa Metro station. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to walk the length of it.

“At 820 metres, the Metro link is one of the longest of its kind,” said Ahmad Al Matrooshi, managing director of Emaar Properties.

“The direct connection with the Dubai Metro … will help in reducing traffic and enable visitors to simply walk across from the station to Dubai Mall.”

The walkway and its 70 to 120metre-long travelators can accommodate more than 13,500 pedestrians an hour. It also provides access to Souq Al Bahar, Emaar Square and Emaar Boulevard.

The designers say they were inspired by traditional Arabian latticing known as Mashrabiya, which can be seen in their use of projecting windows and stained glass panels.

Marina Salvaridi, a tourist from Russia, said the walkway was convenient for newcomers like herself who struggled to find their way around.

“This direct access from the station ensures I do not get lost,” she said. “It is also good because we are out of the heat.”

Lea Distrito, a shop attendant in Dubai Mall, said it was great to get a little exercise.

“Also, it’s nice to be able to see from the windows the other landmarks in the area as we head to the mall.”

For Smita Baser, the walk was too exhausting. The mother of two, who has lived in Dubai for 10 years, usually takes one of the feeder buses that operate between the station and the mall’s entrance.

“If I were alone, it would be fine. But it is a little tiring with two children in tow,” said Ms Baser.

“I thought I’d take this because they were promoting it at the information desk. I did not realise it would be such a long walk.”

Dubai Ruler visits world’s first facility dedicated to A380

Dubai Ruler visits world’s first facility dedicated to A380

Dec 27, 2012

DUBAI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, toured the new Emirates Airbus A380 Concourse 3 yesterday.

The facility – the world’s first dedicated to the super-jumbos – is at Dubai International Airport and is due to welcome its first flight in January, according to the state news agency, Wam.

Sheikh Mohammed was joined  by his son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai – among many other dignitaries, ministers and higher officials – during his inspection.

They were briefed by Khalifa Al Zafeen, chief executive officer of Dubai Aviation City.

Concourse 3 is 650 metres long and 90 metres wide with 11 storeys, four of them underground, according to Mr Al Zafeen.

There are automated passenger transport points for arrivals and departures.

During his one-hour visit, Sheikh Mohammed toured gates dedicated to lining up Airbus 380s, which were equipped with loading bridges for passengers to move between the planes and the terminal.

There are six additional gates for planes parked further away.

Concourse 3 has first and business-class lounges, four- and five-star hotels and a mall with 40 counters to follow flights and airlines. An internal metro carries passengers to and from Terminal 3, which is dedicated to Emirates Airlines flights.

It also connects to Terminal 2, which has a capacity for 19 million passengers annually. Overall, Concourses 2 and 3 will have a capacity for 43 million passengers annually.

Sheikh Mohammed wandered through the arrivals hall of Terminal 3 and inspected the counters.

At the end of his trip, he took the Metro to Burj Khalifa, describing the rail network as “the project of the century”.

Read more:
Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | on Facebook

The world’s most attended New Year’s celebrations – Downtown Dubai

1.7m revellers ring in 2013 at Downtown Dubai

Number of visitors surpassed that of New York and Sydney’s New Year’s Eve revellers

    • By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter
    • Published: 14:17 January 2, 2013

  • Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News
  • People secure their vantage points for the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai: The Downtown Dubai New Year’s Eve Gala has achieved a new feat for being the world’s most attended New Year’s celebrations with a visitor turnout of 1.7 million revellers to ring in 2013.

The Burj Khalifa’s dazzling pyrotechnic display attracted 1.7 million visitors on December 31 according to official estimates, which is a big leap from the estimated “hundreds of thousands of revellers” that attended the event last year.

The emirate’s official New Year’s Eve Gala was also telecast live via satellite to more than 1,000 global television channels, and live streamed on and, reaching more than two billion people.

Downtown Dubai’s New Year visitors surpassed that of the reported one million revellers at New York’s Time Square, and the estimated 1.5 million people who reportedly poured in to watch the fireworks display at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In London, local media reported an estimated 250,000 revellers who descended on the capital to watch the pyrotechnic display that featured 12,500 fireworks.

“The event underlines the positive vision that Dubai upholds by serving as a beacon of hope for people and highlighting the happiness and robust outlook that the city brings,” said Mohammad Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties and Dubai Events Council, and organiser of the event.

Before the New Year countdown, revellers were treated to a water, fire and light show on the Burj Lake. This year’s pyrotechnic display that illuminated the Burj Khalifa was synchronised to a live performance of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, a first ever feat in the emirate.

The huge turnout made traffic on the main roads leading to Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall move at a snail’s pace. More than 500,000 commuters used the Dubai Metro which operated round-the-clock to help ease traffic congestion on New Year’s Eve.


Dubai ranks third in the world for taxi service

Dubai ranks third in the world for taxi service

Dubai also ranked third best for shopping after New York and Bangkok

  • By Shafaat Shahbandari, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 17:09 December 18, 2012

Dubai: Dubai has been ranked third in the world for its taxi services behind Tokyo and Singapore, in a survey by a leading international travel website.

According to’s annual Cities Survey, which looks into how travellers and locals view 40 key tourist cities around the world, Dubai is also the third best for shopping after New York City and Bangkok.

The results were compiled based on more than 75,000 responses to a survey sent to those who have recently written tripadvisor reviews on the featured cities.

The splendid results for Dubai have obviously elated the city’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which governs taxi services.

“This is great news for the city and apt reward for all our hard work, I congratulate His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for this achievement,” said Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Dossary, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

He attributed RTA’s continuous success to the clear vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad to achieve the best in all aspects.

“There are four to five factors which have helped us forge ahead to this level so quickly. Number one is the clear vision of our leadership, number two is our willingness to help people, number three is our ability to deliver what we say and finally we start where people end in terms of technology,” added Al Dossary.

He said that whatever Dubai has achieved is special because the cities that “we are competing against are mostly European and American cities which were established a long time ago and, compared to them, we are fairly new, but still we have managed to be on a par with them when it comes to transport service.”

Al Dossary asserted that Dubai offers world-class transport services at affordable rates and that is the key to its success.

Around 8,000 taxis managed by eight franchises operate in Dubai and this year they have managed to clock 96 million trips.

Dubai World Central – the world’s first purpose-built

DWC, the world’s first purpose-built aerotropolis

Smartworld unveils GPON for DWC

Smartworld, a next-generation ICT provider in the Middle East that has been entrusted with the responsibility to provision the ICT network in Dubai World Central, or DWC, has achieved a milestone with the implementation of a gigabit passive optical network, or GPON, network at DWC.

The launch will put DWC, the world’s first purpose-built aerotropolis and strategic initiative of the Government of Dubai, into the league of prestigious gigabit capable precincts of the world and provide next-generation network capabilities to ICT users at DWC. “Following the success of this project, DWC will continue to work closely and take advantage of Smartworld’s specialised expertise,” said Rashed Bu Qara’a, chief operating officer of Dubai Aviation City Corporation.

“The next-generation network unlocks more exciting possibilities for business enterprises operating at DWC, giving them unprecedented networking and communication capabilities,” Smartworld chief executive officer Reyadh Ayesh added.

Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis Hotel is world’s tallest hotel

Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis Hotel is world’s tallest hotel

By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter
Published: Dec 17, 2012 11:12 AM

Photo 1 of 2
Dubai: The city of superlatives has done it again with JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai, claiming the world’s tallest hotel title, the latest addition to Dubai’s growing list of world records.

“We are excited and delighted to be officially recognised as the world’s tallest hotel. Dubai is a city of superlatives and the JW Marriott Marquis is an outstanding addition its iconic skyline,” said Rupprecht Queitsch, general manager of JW Marriott Marquis Hotel.

Located in the heart of Business Bay, the 355-metre JW Marriott Marquis Hotel was recently officially recognised by the Guinness World Record as the world’s tallest hotel. The iconic five-star hotel boasts of a height that’s almost half or 43 per cent of the height of Burj Khalifa.

The world’s tallest hotel title was previously held by the 333-metre tall Rose Rayhaan by Rotana on Shaikh Zayed Road, which opened in January 2010.

Dubai holds a number of Guinness World Records including the tallest building — the Burj Khalifa; the tallest residential building — Princess Tower; the largest shopping centre The Dubai Mall; the largest indoor ski-resort — Ski Dubai; to name a few.

Currently, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel ranks 28th in the world’s top 200 tallest buildings, and the sixth tallest building in Dubai, according to Emporis, a global database for building and construction information.

The 77-floor twin towers opened its first tower to guests last month. The hotel’s grand opening is scheduled in February 2013. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in November ordered the implementation of the second phase of the project that is scheduled to be completed by 2014.

The hotel has 804 guest rooms with panoramic views in each tower, 14 restaurants, bars and lounges. It features more than 8,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor event space which includes two ballrooms.

“It’s sort of a small city within itself. Any business traveller can find everything he needs within the hotel itself,” Ashok Korgaonkar, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai’s leading architect, told Gulf News.

Korgaonkar said that when they designed the hotel in 2005, the primary goal was not just to come up with a good design but also to make it functional.

“We wanted the design to stand out in comparison to the surrounding buildings but we didn’t want purely aesthetics but also functionality. So the structure is basically the contemporary version of the trunk of the date palm tree which is part and parcel of the life in Arabian countries,” Korgaonkar said.

UAE cities top in Arab world for quality of life

UAE cities top in Arab world for quality of life

Abu Dhabi and Dubai rank highest in the Arab world for quality of life and infrastructure, according to a survey by the HR consultancy Mercer.

For overall quality of life, Abu Dhabi ranks 78th globally – level with last year – while Dubai edged up one place to 73rd, according to Mercer’s rankings.

That puts the two UAE cities ahead of others in the Middle East and North Africa, with the next highest in Mercer’s ranking being Oman, which was placed 103rd.

“That the two UAE cities maintained and exceeded their high ranking shows that development is up to par with major cities around the world,” Mercer said.

Dubai – which opened its Metro system in 2009 – ranked 34th globally in terms of its infrastructure, ahead of cities including Geneva, Miami and San Francisco.

Quality of life in Cairo and Damascus fell sharply in Mercer’s rankings due to the impact of social unrest, the survey found.

Mercer’s study measures elements including social and economic conditions, plus the availability of medical, education, transportation and recreational facilities.

Vienna retained the top spot in Mercer’s ranking, followed by Zurich at second and Auckland third. Baghdad ranked lowest among the global rankings for quality of life.