x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Planning was key to success of world’s largest fireworks display

A whopping 400,000 fireworks were set up over a 100km space on The Palm and The World to see in the New Year, which has .

The world record breaking fireworks at Atlantis The Palm. (Handout)
The world record breaking fireworks at Atlantis The Palm. (Handout)

DUBAI // It was a nerve-racking day for the man choreographing The Palm and The World islands’ New Year record bid for the world’s biggest fireworks show.

American Phil Grucci is no stranger to such an extravaganza, especially in the UAE. He choreographed 2008’s launch of Atlantis, The Palm, at the time a fireworks display like nothing before in the region.

But the New Year’s Eve welcoming in 2014 was something else.

All day Tuesday lorries carried fireworks resembling ornately arranged explosives to their final destination. Some of the fireworks measured 600 millimetres – about four times the normal size for such displays.

The six-minute event spread across 100 kilometres of seafront, had been 10 months in the making and needed more than 200 pyrotechnicians to be dotted around the two sites to ensure everything went off without a hitch.

That was in addition to the team of 1,000 who had already put in 5,000 man hours, and the many emergency services in place around The Palm.

An incredible 400,000 fireworks, now confirmed on the Guinness World Records website as successful attempt. were set up for the event as Dubai tried to eclipse its Arabian Gulf neighbour Kuwait.

Kuwait held the record for the largest fireworks display after it set off 77,282 pyrotechnics in a 64-minute show across 5km of waterfront in November 2012 to mark the country’s 50th anniversary.

To qualify for the record, a display has to be more than five minutes long but beyond that, organisers could aim for as many fireworks as they wished.

Mr Grucci, who has also organised continuing displays across the city, said just hours before the event: “We’re being given the challenge of breaking the world record, so the scale of this is nothing that anybody has had the opportunity to oversee.

“It’s a privilege to be given this opportunity.”

The fireworks were brought to Dubai from New York, China and Spain for the show, which was broadcast to the nation from a team of helicopters.

“Because most of the fireworks will be based out on The World islands, it won’t be as noisy as people expect,” said Mr Grucci last night.

“It won’t be any louder than any of the shows people will have seen here before. Eardrums won’t be burst and windows won’t be shattered.

“It will simply be exciting due to the vast number of locations this will be happening at.”

Michaela Kalnova, an assistant restaurant manager at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel on The Palm, has been in Dubai for seven years and remembers the fireworks of 2008.

Last night said she had goose bumps in anticipation of the world record extravaganza.

Ms Kalnova was happy to be working on New Year’s Eve as her workplace was “right in the heart of the action”, as opposed to her living quarters in Al Quoz.

“I have the perfect view and feel very lucky,” she said. “Everyone here is so excited. I hope this will be even more beautiful than 2008.”

Not everyone was happy about the numbers of people flocking to The Palm for the occasion.

The island was in lockdown from 8am on Tuesday, when anyone wishing to enter had to have an event pass to keep the numbers of people limited to residents, hotel guests and those attending events.

Sandance at The Atlantis was shuttle bus only to keep traffic to a minimum, but even with that restriction in place, traffic on The Palm was slow moving from as early as noon and continued that way throughout the day, partly because of police inspections.

IT engineer Rajesh Kumar lives at the Fairmont residences on The Palm. He was happy to be staying in with his wife and family.

“I have the perfect spot to see all the action without having the headache of travelling on New Year’s Eve and being stuck in traffic like every other year,” Mr Kumar said. “I know it’s going to be gridlock for this event.

“It’s bad enough when it’s just Sandance but to have all of this going on as well, it will be like a car park out there.”

mswan@thenational.ae