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New Year fireworks illuminate world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa

Published:

Spectacular fireworks exploded over the world's tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, in a blaze of light and color, illuminating the Gulf city state's sky as the huge expatriate and tourist hub celebrated the New Year.

Fireworks engulfed the 828-metre (2,716-foot) tower, synchronized and choreographed to a live performance by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Hours before the clock struck 00:00 am in Dubai, massive crowds had gathered in the area surrounding the tower watching a spectacular light show that accompanied the Czech band's classical hits.

Fireworks also flashed across several other parts of Dubai and the capital Abu Dhabi.

At the tower, Rami, a Jordanian resident told AFP: "This is a very special event. We came to see it after all we had heard about it."

A window table for the New Year event on the 122nd floor of the building at Atmosphere -- a restaurant 422 metres (1,350 feet) up in Burj Khalifa -- cost 16,000 dirhams (4,300 dollars) per person.

Over the past few years, Dubai has been vying to become a permanent fixture on the world map of New Year celebrations, displaying spectacular shows since the opening of Burj Khalifa in 2010.

Emaar had spent 1.5 billion dollars on the tower, named after United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan who came to the aid of Dubai in 2009, when it was hit by the global financial crisis in 2009.

The UAE is home to around 8.2 million people, the majority of them expatriates.

Elsewhere in the world, Australia's famous harbor city brought in the New Year on a balmy summer night with a $6.9 million display curated by pop icon Kylie Minogue, who pressed the button to start the pyrotechnics.

Fireworks lit up the Thames in London, Moscow's Red Square and Kremlin and Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, as well as central Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Stockholm, Amsterdam and cities across China.

Revelers in New York celebrated the stroke of midnight with the traditional New Year's Eve ball drop over Times Square, where South Korean Internet and pop sensation Psy joined a host of American music stars.

Celebrations in the U.S. were overshadowed by the ever-approaching "fiscal cliff," a punishing package of government spending cuts and tax hikes due to kick in on January 1.

A compromise remains elusive and the repercussions of failure uncertain.