Sparkling Celebration

A stunning show to mark the 43rd UAE National Day in style
The Burj Al Arab took centre stage on the city's skyline with a dazzling fireworks display by Ruggieri.
The Burj Al Arab took centre stage on the city's skyline with a dazzling fireworks display by Ruggieri.

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Against the background of the Burj Al Arab lighting up the night sky with an extravagant fireworks display, HQ Creative put together a stunning show for the Government of Dubai, UAE National Day Celebration.

If there’s one thing Dubai does well, it’s events that tip the grander end of the scale. And, when it comes to huge occasions such as UAE National Day, there is no doing things by halves.

Charged with co-ordinating and producing the Government of Dubai, UAE National Day Celebration for another consecutive year in December 2014, HQ Creative stepped up to the challenge and created an impressive display of technical and creative elements.

Katie Veira, managing partner and principal creative, explains: “The brief was to create and deliver a ‘major public event’, which would be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and serve as Dubai’s official National Day show.”

Veira continues: “The event was designed to accommodate 600 Royal and VVIP guests, plus public seating for an additional 2500 people. Operationally and logistically there was specific criteria set down, but creatively the brief leaves agencies open to suggest themes, concepts and ideas.

The show must be entertaining, educational and reflect the essence and spirit of the UAE. Broadcast live on TV, it must also have mass appeal and translate well to both Emirati and international viewers.”

Bearing all elements of the brief in mind, this year’s event took the form of a 30-minute stage show, followed by a 15-minute projection mapping and fireworks finale on the Burj Al Arab, a display that also coincided with the luxury hotel and Dubai landmark’s 15th anniversary celebrations.

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With the tender for the project issued in June and the contract awarded in September, work on site began four weeks before the show itself. Katie Clark, project director and producer, HQ Creative, told Sound & Stage: “The chosen site (Jumeirah Hills) this year was particularly challenging, as it was in essence a working construction site.

At the request of Dubai Government, construction work on the development was put on hold in order for us to build. As well as the usual permits and permissions, no work could start until DEWA confirmed that there were no live cables under the ground.”

But the site came with another difficulty to overcome. Clark explains: “In addition, the site is surrounded by residential properties and the scope of the build meant that the construction works were in extremely close proximity to the villas. Whilst there was an extremely tight build schedule, every effort was made to minimise disruption to the residents, audio levels were kept to a minimum during rehearsals and tickets and compensation were arranged.”

Once finished, however, the site came together well to play host to a variety of impressive technology and creative innovations, which all highlighted the video content and performances that had been specially created to narrate the history of the UAE.

But, having been the driving force behind many previous National Day celebrations and other Government of Dubai shows, the task of coming up with fresh ideas to commemorate the occasion is not something that HQ considers any less important.

Veira says: “I think the National Day events, as with all major events, are continuously improving in terms of the use of new technologies and effects. Certainly, HQ is always looking to incorporate the latest technologies in our shows. What is most important for this particular show, however, is its emotional content, the narrative and underlying messages that need to be creatively and meaningfully communicated.”

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And sourcing the right equipment to communicate the messages meant that HQ teamed up with Neumann&Müller, a tried-and-tested relationship that has produced many successful events across the region and continued with this latest collaboration, as the event technology company realised all the lighting on both the stage and site with over 450 lighting fixtures, 60 of which had internal shutters to light and use gobo effects right up to the projection surfaces.

As well as this, N&M were involved in the lighting design, projection, real-time transmission segment, and provided 40 crew members including a key team of experts in their fields to lead the project.

Veira says: “HQ first worked with N&M back in 2005, when we produced the first anniversary celebrations for DIFC. They have since been one of our preferred event technology partners and we have worked together on many major shows over the past 10 years. N&M have always embraced our ideas and helped develop innovative and reliable solutions, however ambitious our concept.”

This sentiment is reflected by Bill Pugh, senior partner and project director, Neumann&Müller, who says: “N&M worked closely with Darrell Jamieson, creative director at HQ Creative, to design all aspects of the lighting and projection. We have built up a trust-based relationship with all of our clients and they expect us to deliver technically sophisticated concepts with the utmost efficiency — and this project certainly met all those standards we set ourselves.”

And the event managed to not only meet the standards expected, but exceed them through a range of different mediums, particularly with regards to the projection techniques used within the show.

Pugh explains: “The projection brief was a complicated and challenging aspect of the project that required 22 projectors on site, together with Watchout media servers. We also undertook projection mapping on moving pieces of stage setup throughout the show.”

The event also saw a UAE first with the real-time transmission and projection of a young Emirati boy taking a selfie as part of the show, as well as live shots of the guest of honour, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, using iPads with dedicated Wi-Fi array and special software.

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While the entire UAE may have been marking the 43rd National Day with a variety of different events and ceremonies, it is often considered to be the case that all eyes are on Dubai for the real climax. And, for 2014, the combined efforts of all parties involved in producing this particular spectacle showed the world that the city knows how to celebrate in style.

Team effort
The collaboration didn’t stop with HQ and N&M companies alone. In order to put on such a grand event, a large team of contributors played their part.

Veira explains: “In addition to N&M, who supplied video and lighting solutions, key local contractors included Al Laith (grandstands, site infrastructure and stage technology), Unusual Rigging (rigging) Delta Sound (audio), Laser Graphix (laser), BKP Media Group (musical composition and arrangement), and The Collective (live action film production).

The Burj Al Arab segment of the show, including the fireworks, was designed and produced by Ruggieri, while international partners included Atomic Arts UK (CGI content creation), Baier Engineering (robotics), ARS (autonomous quadrotors) and Xyloband (interactive wristbands). We also involved Emirati writers, theatre groups, schools and dance academies, as well as international performers.”

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