Team players - Ian Greenway, Zoe Gillespie, Siobhan Shaw and Jo MacKay
UAE - The United Arab Emirates marked 50 years as a nation with 50 days of celebrations, culminating in a spectacular live show from Dubai’s Hatta Water Dam in the Hajar Mountains featuring a floating stage and drone-launched fireworks, produced by live event specialists, LarMac Projects.
The show charted the country’s history in the lead-up to its inception in 1971 and across the subsequent 50 years.
For the country’s Golden Jubilee, the creative team - led by artistic director and designer Es Devlin and LarMac executive creative producer Jo MacKay - knew that the boundaries of possibility needed to be pushed to their limit.
The initial show was live streamed on 2 December and followed by 10 additional performances that took place between 3-12 December, featuring specially composed songs and poetry, drone-launched fireworks, a light show, water displays and 5.1 surround sound ‘to convey the relationship between people and nature, and the ties between Emiratis, their homeland, and the environment’.
“This year, Es’s creativity was the most technically audacious and emotionally ambitious in order to deliver a country's attitude to its past and future,” says Jo MacKay.
LarMac enlisted a team of 650 creative, cast, technical and safety personnel from 100 countries to bring Devlin’s designs to life.
"The whole show floats, the audience floats," says Es. "We explored some new ways of using less pyrotechnics to elevate the fireworks into the air, using drones to lift them to a height, then a combination of drone and fireworks to create a new illusion that I certainly haven't worked with before.
"In addition, we created projections in mid-air through the use of water screens, as well as a huge sculptural element that, again, is floating. All of these things pushed engineering to its limits at the site in Hatta."
Wonder Works provided technical engineering, while Stage One oversaw the centrepiece rotating disc stage, PRG supplied lighting, and Creative Technology handled projection - utilising the power of VYV Photon media servers. Industry veteran Bruno Poet was the show’s lighting designer and Luke Halls Studio created the detailed video content.
This core creative team was completed by Groupe F (pyro and drone displays) and Auditoria Systems (audio design), whose goal was to create a listening experience that delivered a high-fidelity nearfield sound using individual 5.1 systems.
LarMac director Ian Greenway comments: “Like all National Day projects, this one came with its challenges. We hadn’t built a lake on top of an existing lake before, never mind with automated stages or grandstands on top. As always, we try and engage with the best and only by promoting a hugely collaborative team effort were we able to pull off this different and culturally significant event.”
As well as Ian Greenway and Jo MacKay, the LarMac Projects team comprised executive producer Nick Levitt, technical director Simon L. Lachance, creative producer Siobhan Shaw and assistants to the producers, Zoe Gillespie and Finlay Bowrey.

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