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New Year's celebrations banned in Sharjah and Pakistan amid Gaza war

Marking the occasion has been banned in the Emirate of Sharjah and across Pakistan but they are set to proceed elsewhere
Fireworks in Dubai, UAE, during the 2020 New Year's Eve celebrations. (AFP)
Fireworks in Dubai during the 2020 New Year's celebrations (AFP)

Across the Middle East, Gaza's deadliest-ever war is casting a shadow over the countdown to the New Year. 

It follows muted Christmas celebrations among Christian communities across the occupied Palestinian territories, southern Lebanon and Syria.

Authorities in Sharjah, the third largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have cancelled its customary New Year’s Eve celebrations - including all firework displays - in solidarity with Gaza. 

Sharjah Police announced on Wednesday 27 December that legal measures will be taken against people taking part in celebrations. 

But no such ban has been announced anywhere else in the region. Nor are other emirates, renowned for their extravagant annual New Year’s Eve celebrations, announcing bans.

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In Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, the Sheikh Zayed Festival is set to feature a record-breaking firework display lasting for a full hour.

Meanwhile in Dubai, several major displays have been planned, including at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Dubai’s Global Village confirmed on Wednesday that it will have no fewer than seven fireworks shows.

In Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, customary street parties and live concerts have been planned for the occasion, while multiple firework displays are scheduled for Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

Likewise, Lusail City in Qatar will host laser shows and fireworks. Qatar recently marked its National Day on 18 December with significantly reduced celebrations in solidarity with Gaza. 

Outside of the Middle East, Pakistan has issued a “strict ban” on “any kind of event for New Year”, with caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar urging people to “show solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters”.

He added: “The whole Pakistani nation and the Muslim world are in a sheer state of anguish over the massacre of innocent children and genocide of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.”

Globally, an online campaign called Countdown 2 Ceasefire is mounting in popularity. The campaign urges people across the world to join New Year’s Eve events on 31 December displaying banners calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and to shout “Ceasefire Now” during the countdown to the New Year.

Countdown 2 Ceasefire has close to 30,000 followers on Instagram.

The campaign is gaining traction amid intensified Israeli bombing in central Gaza, as well as escalating raids in the occupied West Bank and Israeli forces firing tear gas at Palestinian worshippers attempting to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday.

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