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AFP
January 1, 2018
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Sydney welcomes 2018 with dazzling fireworks display

World

AFP
January 1, 2018

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SYDNEY: Australia rang in the New Year on Sunday with a spectacular display of rainbow-coloured fireworks cascading from Sydney Harbour Bridge amid tight security.

About 1.5 million people packed the city’s foreshore to watch the pyrotechnics light up the sky above the historic bridge and the iconic opera house, the first major celebrations worldwide after New Zealand.

Thousands turned out earlier in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland for the annual New Year’s Eve street party, marked by a major fireworks display from the Sky Tower. Celebrations will move to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and finally the Americas, with dazzling light shows bidding farewell to 2017.

Hong Kong: "Shooting stars" will be fired from the rooftops of skyscrapers in a 10-minute musical fireworks display. Jakarta: Some 500 couples will wed in a mass ceremony sponsored by the government, and festivals and bazaars will be held on main roads and at tourist sites.

Dubai: The city is replacing its main midnight fireworks with a laser show on the world’s tallest tower, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa. Moscow: Major boulevards and squares will be decked out to welcome the new year, with fireworks to light up 36 key sites.

Berlin. Special tents will be set up at the Brandenburg Gate to care for women victims of sexual harassment or those who feel threatened, following mass assaults by migrant groups on women in Cologne two years ago. In Cologne itself, 1,400 police will be mobilised, street lighting will be improved and more video cameras installed.

Paris. Hundreds of thousands are expected to line the Champs-Elysees for a light show and fireworks at the Arc de Triomphe. Nearly 140,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers will be deployed nationwide to guard against the jihadist threat. But with no major attack in France since mid-2016 the atmosphere was noticeably more festive than in the past two years.

IS’s defeat in Iraq and Syria was one of the key stories this year, although the jihadists remain a threat and numerous attacks around the world were claimed by them or al-Qaeda-linked groups.

Donald Trump stole the news spotlight after making his debut as US President in January 2017, with "America first" policies and a bombastic personal style that has shaken up international diplomacy.

The former reality television star is likely to continue dominating headlines in 2018, with escalating tensions over North Korea among a host of global challenges.

Other political and diplomatic earthquakes set to rumble into 2018 include the crisis in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar, and the humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

In Europe, further talks on Brexit will help shape the region’s future trade relationship while Russia is set to host the football World Cup amid frictions with the West.

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