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):

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. 

READ  Saudi Arabia suspends domestic flights and trains for 14 days over coronavirus fears



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