Dubai cancels fireworks, expats scramble

Dec. 31, 2008 at 1:39 PM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Western expatriates in Dubai scrambled to make other plans Wednesday after the state's rulers called off an opulent New Year's celebration, observers said.

Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum called off the festivities late Tuesday due to the violence in the Gaza Strip where Israel has launched airstrikes against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, The Times of London reported.

That left British and other foreigners living in the city seeking last-minute New Year's Eve celebrations. Hotel owners offered some revised indoor entertainments, but called off outdoor activities.

A spokesman for the five-star Le Meridien hotel told The Times, "Normally we have outdoor entertainment but this year it will be just indoors."

"The only alternative is to have a party indoors," Kelly Frost, a 28-year-old Briton who emigrated to Dubai with her parents at the age of three, told the newspaper. "I think people are just gutted they're not able to celebrate New Year as they would've done."

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