They came to ring in the New Year, celebrate with family and friends, and watch a fireworks extravaganza that was to be history in the making.
Some joined the tens of thousands on the Palm Jumeirah for the pyrotechnics and the Sandance festival; others were content to relax on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, or have a quiet barbecue at Safa Park in Dubai.
But no matter where they watched the curtain fall on 2013, no one seemed disappointed. Bijendra Singh, from India, decided to watch the show in more serene surrounds.
He and 14 of his family members travelled down from Ras Al Khaimah to Al Safa Park in Dubai.
“We got here about midday because we wanted a nice place to see the fireworks, but away from all the traffic and the crowds at Dubai Mall,” said Mr Singh. “We wanted to make a day out of it for the children as well, and brought along a picnic.”
Mohammed Omar, 33, an Emirati, reminisced about the year gone by at Al Assalah restaurant, near Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Village. “In 2013, we achieved a lot of milestones, especially Expo 2020, and started investing in our infrastructure,” the proud citizen said.
“We are becoming one of the best and happiest people in the region.”
And while Abi Dhabi was not trying for a record fireworks display, there were plenty of parties in the capital.
The Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri Hotel held a Back to the ’80s night to celebrate the approach of 2014.
One of the 650 or so guests was Egyptian Yasser Zaki, there with his Tunisian wife Yousra Hosni.
“My plan for the New Year is no plan,” Mr Zaki said. “I want to be a millionaire.”