Organizers at Expo 2020 Dubai have announced they will ring in 2022 will a large-scale spectacular – regardless of the scaling back of some activities at the site due to rising numbers of COVID-19.
Expo – the largest major global event to be held since the start of the pandemic – has announced a line-up of live activities on December 31, including a music festival featuring two DJs, two fireworks displays and a midnight ‘ball drop’ at al-Wasl Plaza.
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Organizers say the celebrations will be held against “a backdrop of extensive safety measures that will ensure an unforgettable New Year’s Eve”, according to a statement on its website.
It comes as Expo organizers suspended some scheduled events that require close or direct contact as a precaution against the latest COVID-19 developments in the UAE, state news agency WAM reported on Monday.
COVID-19 cases in the UAE continued to climb on Wednesday, with officials reporting another 665 cases in the previous 24 hours.
The figures reflect a 47 percent rise on Tuesday’s figures of 452 cases and a 120 percent rise from Monday’s 301 cases.
Some of the suspended goings-on at Expo include live shows, and performance arts by roaming artists. Additionally, the Expo increased the number of PCR testing facilities, and enforced a PCR test on all front-line workers at the site, as well as the entertainment employees.
However, organizers have promised a line-up of activities on New Year’s Eve with enhanced COVID-19 safety measures.
Aligned with numerous global time zones across 13 hours of festivities, Expo’s site-wide countdown celebrations will begin at 3pm on Friday December 31 and last until 4am on January 1.
DJ star Dimitri Vegas will perform at Expo’s Jubilee Park from 11.30pm, followed by a set from Armin Van Buuren, one of the world’s biggest DJs and electronic music producers.
Numerous Arab, Filipino and Indian DJs will feature throughout the evening too, with a midnight ‘ball drop’ moment at al-Wasl Plaza, two separate fireworks displays at midnight and 3am respectively, as well as celebrations across many of Expo’s 192 Country pavilions – all heralding 2022.
More than 70 restaurants and 120-plus food concepts, including food trucks, food halls, restaurants, bars, kiosks and “never-before-seen concepts by international chefs”, will also be to hand on New Year’s Eve, organizers said.
The newly-opened Festival Garden in Expo’s Jubilee Park, featuring communal seating, a main stage, food trucks, kiosks and carts, will have music and entertainment for the family, while a variety of restaurants across Expo will offer set menus, DJ performances and entertainment throughout New Year’s Eve.
Tareq Ghosheh, chief events and entertainment officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Celebrated by every country in the world, New Year’s Eve is a unique moment in time – celebrations made ever more poignant over these past two years as we address the pandemic together.”
“As we continue to safely host 192 nations over 182 days, as the largest event ever held in the Arab world, we are thrilled to host a spectacular celebration of top-class entertainment and activations, welcoming 2022 with open arms and renewed optimism for a brighter future.”
The largest major global event to be held since the start of the pandemic, Expo’s latest COVID-19 measures include the expansion of the number of on-site PCR testing facilities to four, and free testing for all Country Pavilion staff. While all frontline workers and entertainers continue to be tested on a regular basis, some close contact events, such as parades and roving entertainers, have been temporarily suspended as a short-term precautionary measure.
With more than 90 per cent of the UAE population fully vaccinated, Expo 2020 Dubai has required mandatory vaccination and boosters of all Expo and International Participant staff, volunteers, contractors and service providers.
Visitors aged 18 and above are required to present proof of any vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. In addition, Expo 2020 maintains on site sanitization stations and mandatory face masks, both indoors and outdoors.