DUBAI: The world is preparing for an unprecedented celebration of New Year’s Eve, previously marked with grand public events.
This year many countries have put restrictions to avoid mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected over 80 million people worldwide, and killed around 1.8 million.
Although 2020 has been a challenging year, the Middle East has seen major milestones including Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency and the normalization of diplomatic ties between Israel and a number of Arab countries.
Follow @arabnews on Twitter to get a glimpse of how countries across the world bid farewell to 2020.
Here’s the highlights of the New Year celebrations as they happen (All times in GMT):
05:00 A nearly empty Time Square in New York saw in 2021 with just a handful of revellers, the New York Police Department having earlier reminded people to stay away as the area was closed.
00:00 The United Kingdom ushered in the new year outside the EU. Britain finally severed its turbulent half-century partnership with Europe, quitting the EU single market and customs union and going its own way four-and-a-half years after its shock vote to leave the bloc.
23:00 Paris welcomes New Year with Eiffel Tower light show:
21:45 - A view of Athens' New Year's Eve celebrations from the Acropolis...
21:00 - Watch celebrations from Moscow's Red Square...
20:15 - In case you missed it, watch Bangkok’s spectacular show from earlier...
20:00 WATCH - A live feed from Dubai's New Year's Eve event...
19:30 - Danish bank Saxo Bank has compiled its annual list of 10 Outrageous Predictions for 2021. The predictions focus on a series of unlikely but underappreciated events which, if they were to occur, could send shockwaves across global financial markets. Click here for all of them...
19:00 - We’re about an hour away from Dubai’s big NYE event, check out this video from behind the scenes of Emmar’s preparations...
18:30 - 2020 might be a year you want to forget, but let Arab News jog your memory of the most important headlines from around the Middle East over the past 12 months...
18:00 - A year ago Wuhan was the ground zero of the COVID-19 outbreak, but 12 months later and the city’s residents were celebrating the end of 2020 and ringing in 2021...
16:15 - Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers perform during the daily Beating the Retreat ceremony on New Year’s Eve at the India-Pakistan Wagah Border Post, about 35 kms from Amritsar on December 31, 2020...(AFP)
16:00 - Watch the celebrations from Taipei, Taiwan as the 101 Tower lights up the night sky...
15:45 - Not normally a city on the world’s radar, Wuhan was the ground zero of this year’s COVID-19 outbreak. With 15 minutes to go to midnight, the city and its residents are preparing to see in the new year...(AFP)
15:15 - People pose near a decoration on the New Year’s eve at a shopping mall in Mumbai on December 31, 2020. (AFP)
15:00 - Watch the celebrations from Pyongyang as the new year arrives in the North Korean capital.
14:30 - Tokyo Tower is lit as people walk at Shiba Park on New Year's Eve in Tokyo on December 31, 2020. (AFP)
14:15 - Singapore rang in the new year with a light show at Marina Bay area of the city...(AFP)
14:00 - Catch the highlights of Sydney's spectacular show below...
13:00 - Sydney, Australia gave its usual spectacular fireworks display at the Sydney Harbor Bridge
11:29 - The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will not lead New Year's Eve and New Year's Day services because of a flare up of his sciatica condition, which produces pain in his right leg
11:00 - Celebrations kicked off in Auckland, New Zealand, as one of the first countries in the world to welcome the new year.
10:00 - The eagerly awaited first lights of 2021 fell on the Pacific nations of Kiribati and Samoa from 10:00 GMT, with the uninhabited Howland and Baker Islands the last to tip over into the New Year, 26 hours later.