For a first timer in Dubai, I was pretty excited to see the famed fireworks at the Burj Khalifa! I was even more excited when my boss allowed me to leave by 3 so I could get a good view. After a little bit of haggling for taxis and a lot of walking, a private taxi very kindly offered to drop me at the closest spot. For people familiar with Dubai, I left from Business Bay to reach the Burj Park right opposite the Burj Khalifa (for people who don’t know, it’s about 2 or 3 kms from my workplace). Since it was only 3, the crowd was comparatively less but I could see excited faces all around me and ultimately found my way to the best viewing spot even money couldn’t buy! I was at the front of the Burj Khalifa and the fountain and I could see that I had struck gold! That was the easy part. The hard part was navigating 5 other family members to that spot! (They were all coming in at different times because of work and so I had gone in to find a spot earlier than all of them). For a newbie in Dubai, it’s pretty hard to give directions, and the volunteers didn’t seem to know much as well. Finally after a few hundred phone calls (kidding!) 4 out of my 6 family members reached the spot.
Now, I’m not going to lie, my experience had its fair share of disappointments. When my sister’s husband came in at 8 pm, the authorities refused to let him enter the park citing crowd control. And I am with them, they need to be strict in order to avoid any incident. But the fact remains that we were waiting on the inside from 4 pm and it’s only fair that the family members of the people who are inside be allowed. And no one was helpful. When it came to helping us, initially they told us to get my brother-in-law from outside but when the higher authorities asked them, they did not help us in any way. There was no consistency in form of rules. While one authority said they would not let him in, another authority told us to bring him so he could let us in. With all this haggling, we lost our spot but that wasn’t the worst part. Just as we were about to leave the place to find a better spot, we saw flames leap out of the Address Hotel, right next to the Burj Khalifa. Though we were a good kilometre (or more) distance away from it, it still disturbed us to see the building that we had so admired from our perfect viewing spot was up in flames! But I was impressed with Dubai at that time. The volunteers acted so efficiently, pushing us out of the way but not manhandling us, and assuring us that things were under control (I mean, I’ve seen crowds mind you, and I know how difficult it is to avoid a stampede).
With the fire and the confusion, we did not know whether to stay or leave because we were unsure about the fireworks happening that night. But we decided to stay sensing that this is something we would regret if we missed. After learning from a friend who works at the Address that everyone was safe and the building was evacuated, we decided to go ahead and find a spot for the fireworks. The last person of our family, my husband, arrived at record time to the spot (thank God he used the metro) and at 11:30 pm, we managed to get into Downtown Dubai (forgive me I am not too sure of the exact place). It was a beautiful street, decorated festively for New Years and with a side-view of the Burj Khalifa. It wasn’t the perfect spot that I had found earlier but the only thing that mattered that all of us were together, as a family. I guess that’s how life works. Things always happen unexpectedly. It may not go as you planned, but it will take you somewhere better and teach you the life lesson that you need to learn at that point. For us, we learnt the happiness that comes out of staying together as a family. We may have missed the LED show but as 2016 approached, we were subjected to an amazing fireworks show and a memory that will last forever.