Sharjah residents drop special New Year plans, opt for quiet family time

People stand in solidarity with Gaza as the emirate announced the cancellation of all fireworks and NYE festivities

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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A view of Sharjah Almajaz water front. KT photo: Muhammad Sajjad
A view of Sharjah Almajaz water front. KT photo: Muhammad Sajjad

Published: Sun 31 Dec 2023, 5:24 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Dec 2023, 11:56 PM

With the cancellation of all fireworks and celebrations in Sharjah, many residents have decided to drop their New Year's Eve festivities. While some are opting to stay at home and enjoy quality time with their families, the evening holds no special significance for others.

On Tuesday, Sharjah announced a ban on all celebrations and fireworks displays on NYE as a "sincere expression" of solidarity with the people of Gaza. Israeli bombardment has killed more than 20,000 people in the narrow Strip since October 7. The emirate has deployed over 1,200 security personnel in various areas to enforce the ban.

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Spending time with family

Anum Noor will be observing NYE with her family, including her mother, who is visiting her from Pakistan. "We are planning to go to the mall and have a family dinner," she said. "We have no special plans this year."

Anum Noor
Anum Noor

The expat, who has lived in Sharjah for over seven years, expressed that this marks the first time they are refraining from any New Year's Eve celebration. "We usually gather for fireworks every year to celebrate with friends and family. We stay awake the whole night with music, good food and festive decorations. This year, however, I'm not going to see fireworks and am avoiding celebrations because of the ongoing war in Gaza."

For Syrian expat Ahmed Deeb, NYE has always been a time to spend with his family. "I will stay home with my parents, best friends and relatives," he said. "This has been a tradition of ours. We spend quality time together and enjoy each other's company. This year, it is especially important with everything happening in the world. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have my family close to me and welcome the new year with them. I know that many people around the world don't have this luxury."

Ahmed Deeb. Photo: Supplied
Ahmed Deeb. Photo: Supplied

The UAE has been among the most vocal on the international stage in calling for a ceasefire in besieged Gaza. Recently, the United Nations Security Council adopted a UAE-penned resolution that demands substantive, concrete steps to increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

Another Sharjah resident, Fazla, said she would be heading to Dubai to spend time with her extended family for NYE. "We stay on Al Majaz corniche, so every year, we look forward to the fireworks," she said. "This year, it is cancelled, and I think it was the best thing to do considering the situation in Gaza. We will be spending time at a relative's house for the NYE. This year has truly reminded us the need to hold our friends and family close and spend time with them. So I am looking forward to a quiet evening with all my loved ones around me."

Manju Sreekumar with her family
Manju Sreekumar with her family

Heading to the desert

For Indian expat Manju Sreekumar, NYE is a time she gets to do what she loves - desert driving. "We are heading to the desert in the Umm Al Quwain- Ras Al Khaimah border with fellow members of our 4x4 Nation UAE off-roader's club," she said. "We will head out in the evening and probably arrive by 8pm. At this location, we can catch the fireworks on Marjan Island. Usually, the desert drives are accompanied by music and singing. However, this year, we will have a quiet BBQ and camp there for the night."

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