Abu Dhabi cancels 30,000-balloon release for New Year after UAE residents decry plan

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Abu Dhabi cancels balloon release for New Year

The Sheikh Zayed Festival in Abu Dhabi has cancelled its plan to release 30,000 balloons into the night sky on January 1, festival organisers told Expat Media on Wednesday (December 27).

This follows an Expat Media report on the planned spectacle to ring in 2024, with dozens of UAE residents writing comments on Expat Media’s Facebook page urging authorities to rethink the plan, saying the balloons would end up as “additional garbage” that would be hazardous to wildlife and marine life.

Residents also urged Expat Media to relay their concerns to authorities, which we immediately brought to the attention to the Sheikh Zayed Festival team.

In an email to Expat Media on Wednesday, the Sheikh Zayed Festival team confirmed that it has cancelled the plan to release balloons.

“We would like to thank you regarding your worries and thoughts regarding the environment. We would like to let you know that we have cancelled the balloons release,” the Sheikh Zayed Festival team said in an email to Expat Media.

Earlier this week, the Higher Organising Committee of the Sheikh Zayed Festival originally announced a plan to release 100,000 balloons into the night skies in the Al Wathba area where the Sheikh Zayed Festival is located as part of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

On Tuesday, organizers told Expat Media that the number of balloons for midnight release has been lowered down to 30,000. On Expat Media’s Facebook page, dozens of UAE residents wrote comments urging authorities to cancel the plan, pointing out possible environmental damage from discarded balloons. Echoing similar sentiments from netizens, Lee Chan Woon said it would lead to a “catastrophic nightmare”.

Christy Angel Gelena said that while “it might seem like a fun way to celebrate the new year”, the idea of releasing thousands of balloons has “serious drawbacks”. “Once released, those balloons will become litter and could end up causing serious harm to wildlife. Animal such as birds and marine life can mistake the balloons for food or become entangled in the strings, which can lead to injury or death,” Gelena commented.

“That’s 30,000 units to make our Mother Earth suffer a little more. Not counting the 60-minute long fireworks,” Alex Rod commented. “Drone is enough. Please stop this plan,” Alfie Lope Agravante said.

The organizing committee has announced that an elaborate drone show and a 60-minute firework show will take place as part of Sheikh Zayed Festival’s New Year’s Eve celebrations aimed at breaking multiple world records.

“Celebrations will include the largest and most extravagant firework display, which will last more than 60 minutes, breaking four Guinness World Records in terms of quantity, time and design intricacy,” the Higher Organizing Committee said. The fireworks will light the Al Wathba showgrounds where Sheikh Zayed Festival is located.

More than 5,000 drones will also hover over the Al Wathba skies for a spectacular aerial show that is set to create a new record in the region. A first-of-its-kind laser show completes the New Year’s Eve spectacular. ICA/Expat Media


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