New Year 2011 in the UAE, rest of it elsewhere

So that was it, my final New Year’s celebration in the UAE. My three-year visa is soon to end and I am leaving these shores soon for pastures new, so I grabbed the chance to celebrate the occasion with a bang. I didn’t shoot the video above, it isn’t even the most technically proficient on YouTube, but chose it because I also watched the fireworks from a carpark – before returning to a far more enjoyable house party.

For the first time, Dubai had the chance to try and get itself into international news reports for something other than debt, arguments with the Canadian government and imprisoning tourists. However, the local media did it’s best to spread scare stories to that effect, which just added to the general confusion felt by expats living in the country.

Following a last minute ban on public New Year celebrations in 2008 in support of the people of Gaza – which simply led to hoteliers in Abu Dhabi enjoying a bumper night that year and in 2009  – we had this ill-timed warning from Abu Dhabi-based lawyer Khalid Mustafa, that “federal law makes it illegal to consume alcohol in the UAE without a licence – whether at home or in a hotel, and this applies to both residents and tourists”.

Although technically true, it is a law that is rarely – if ever – enforced on tourists or expats drinking in hotel bars.

The ‘warning’ made people stop and think for about a second before it was shrugged off and revellers continued on their merry way. However, after the fireworks had died down the noise from police sirens filled the air in the neighbourhood where I was staying, suggesting that either an unlikely riot had broken out or the local law was looking for some easy collars.

Then again, it could have been worse. We could have used the official transport to watch the government approved event.

That aside can I wish everyone a (belated) happy and healthy 2011, I hope it is as eventful for you as it will be for me…

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