Written by: Rochak Khandelwal
Dubai is one of the emirates in the United Arab Emirates that enjoys doing things in full pomp and style. Whether it is the spectacular fireworks on New Year’s Eve or the world-famous Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), the emirate understands how to keep us entertained during difficult times. An innovative collaboration between Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), the organizers of DSF, and global technology leader Intel, the DSF Drone Light Show has been wowing crowds of residents and visitors at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. daily since December 17 and will continue until January 30. As the premier entertainment, shopping, and tourism event of the year, DSF was the ideal choice to host the stunning and unique aerial performance, which takes place in the skies above landmark Dubai destinations including The Beach opposite JBR, Bluewaters, and the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort.
After seeing several videos of these light shows over social media and the Internet, I wanted to witness this live in Dubai. Several hotels, restaurants and cafes located around the JBR and Bluewaters Island area have been using this unique opportunity every night to invite diners to witness the show with great offers on food and beverage at featured outlets. Therefore, while being in Dubai this year for my higher education, I was fortunate to witness the show first-hand.
For this adventure, I chose Bliss Lounge, a perfect outdoor beach restaurant and bar located in Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort. The views were the best overlooking Ain Dubai (the largest and tallest observation wheel in the world). The restaurants offering the best views of this drone show every night are fully booked, especially on weekends, as they offer both amazing food and beverage selections combined with this magical drone and light show, and I was not disappointed in either category.
The drones took to the skies as scheduled, creating visual depictions of landmarks, logos, and much more, combining technology and art to create something truly unique. This year’s spectacular performance is complemented by a light show on Ain Dubai.
I was so amazed by the show that it made me curious to learn more about this unique technology and the companies providing it for the big brands and events across the UAE. Tech giant Intel has collaborated with DSF this year to display the beautiful drone show over Bluewaters Island and the Jumeirah Beach front. In fact, in my research, I came across a few big tech companies in Dubai like SKD Drones, Ao Multimedia & Drones and Skymagic who have partnered with top hospitality and event companies in Dubai and have delivered magnificent drone and light shows for promotions, advertising, and launches of top brands and events respectively.
The global restaurant chain McDonald’s was one of the first restaurant chains to use this technology in partnership with AO Drones to display a 7-minute-long drone show in which a giant Mc Donald’s logo was choreographed. This show was created for the McDonald’s franchise “Meet in Greece” back in 2019. The VIP guests in the event were left speechless with this unique display.
Czn Burak, one of the world’s top chefs, opened his famous restaurant in downtown Dubai in 2020. After attaining massive success in Dubai, he took his restaurant name to new heights by collaborating with SKD Drones, one of the leading global drone light show operators, and doubled Guinness World Record holders with their show. The tech company delivered a display by flying 1,200 drones in the skies of Dubai for the chef and promoting his brand name, using visualization techniques featuring his brand logo, Chef Burak’s signature apron, and of course, the most interesting portrait of Chef himself. Chef Burak became one of the first restauranteurs in Dubai to use this unique technology to promote his brand and the success of his restaurant. Chef also took this production to his social media sites to show behind-the-scenes footage of the personalized drone and light show developed for his business.
There are several other top hospitality and event companies like Emaar Hospitality, the Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi, Jumeirah Burj Al Arab, Atlantis he Palm, and Rixos Hotel who have partnered with these drone and light tech companies for entertainment, advertising and event launching purposes.
The possibilities of the shows are endless, and the sky is the limit. The companies can tailor the shows to fit any scale and any requirements needed to tell their unique story. The advantages of these shows are that they are fascinating, innovative, and especially sustainable-no garbage, no noise, no dust.
The demand for drone light shows is increasing rapidly and soon we will be seeing more hospitality and event companies using this technology. As it can be applied in product launches, company anniversaries, and special occasions, providing a unique experience to their guests and visitors, the sky and its opportunities are virtually limitless.
Rochak Khandelwal is a research scholar with the HFTP Middle East Research Center and student at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, UAE.