DUBAI // Ringing in the new year in Dubai has never been cheap, but residents have complained that even budget venues and restaurants are cashing in by inflating prices for the biggest night of the year.
Anyone planning to watch the Burj Khalifa fireworks from the comfort of a cafe or restaurant along Downtown Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard will have to part with up to Dh1,200 for the privilege.
A reservation at Five Guys burger restaurant on the Dubai Fountain promenade costs upwards of Dh1,000, coffee with a view at Starbucks will cost you Dh600 and the Dubai Mall’s Fortnum & Mason cafe is charging Dh1,000.
“It’s insane that a burger joint would cost you Dh1,200,” said Saleh Khalil, an accountant who works in the emirate. “How are these prices calculated? It must be for the view but that is still a big amount.”
Miguel Ramos, 35, a Mexican florist who recently moved to Dubai Marina, said the prices being charged did not seem to make much sense.
“This will be my first New Year’s Eve in Dubai and I really wanted to do something special but you can’t rationalise the prices and the crowds. Dubai operates based on demand I suppose.”
However, the hefty bills are not deterring everyone, with some people determined to get the best view no matter the cost.
“The fireworks at the Burj Khalifa are some of the best in the world. You have to witness them at least once during your time in Dubai,” said Saleh Abdulrahman. “We did pay a few thousand dirhams for the most affordable option but it’s something to check off your list.”
Business owners said the prices being charged were reasonable compared to the demand.
“A guaranteed table at the promenade gives you the view and the chance to be with the thousands of people lined up to witness the fireworks,” said a manager of a cafe on Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard.
“This is your best option to avoid the crowds and have a place to be,” he added, although most venues in the area were not fully booked a week before New Year’s Eve.
On average, venues elsewhere in the city in popular locations such as JBR and Dubai Marina were charging between Dh300 and Dh500 for packages that include food and drinks.
New Year’s Eve options for those living in Abu Dhabi are much easier on the wallet, with cover charges at restaurants in five-star hotels starting at just Dh100. Revellers looking to flash the cash can watch the fireworks at Sho Cho’s Japanese restaurant on the Corniche for Dh500, while more affordable options are available at the Sofitel for Dhs129.
Dubai topped a list of the most expensive cities in the world to ring in the New Year, ahead of London, Paris and New York, in a survey recently carried out by foreign exchange house Travelex.
The research showed that partygoers in the emirate spend an average of Dh2,015 on food, drinks and entertainment on the last night of the year. London came second, with revellers parting with up to Dh1,635 per person, followed by New York at Dh1,565 and Dh1,145 in Paris.
“Dubai has gotten expensive. It’s now a new year’s destination but you need to be creative and think hard of ways to enjoy it without starting the year with a big dent in your wallet,” said Dubai resident Jacob Ekholm.
“We’ll gather at a friend’s apartment to watch the fireworks. There’ll be so many people on so many balconies recording with their phones.”
Source: UAE News