AP PHOTOS: In a flash, 2021 gives way to 2022

Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022,
A couple kiss as people celebrate the arrival of the new year at the famed Shibuya scramble crossing intersection, a popular location for the New Year's Eve gathering, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Tokyo, though the official countdown event was cancelled.
Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as New Year's Eve celebrations begin in Sydney, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.
People celebrate during a New Year's Eve concert in Hong Kong Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.
An attendee at an event that coincided with the New Year Eve smiles as fake snow from a foam machine is blown overhead in Beijing, China, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.
Students holds candles while participating in a demonstration to say goodbye to year 2021 and welcome in 2022, in Lahore, Pakistan, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.
People fire flare as they celebrate the new year in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.
A Ukrainian soldier take a rest near a fighting position on the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, Dec 31, 2021. President Joe Biden has warned Russia's Vladimir Putin that the U.S. could impose new sanctions against Russia if it takes further military action against Ukraine.
People pose with Christmas decorations and 2022 form as they celebrate the new year in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.
People celebrate during a New Year's Eve, in Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. Boisterous New Year's Eve celebrations kicked off Friday in the Serbian capital of Belgrade where, unlike elsewhere in Europe, mass gatherings were allowed despite fears of the fast-spreading omicron variant.

With flashy fireworks displays and subdued celebrations, with some in masks to protect against the coronavirus and others in light-up glasses, the world slipped from 2021 into 2022. As the fast-spreading omicron variant’s stranglehold grows tighter, many are clinging to hopes that the New Year will bring better days.

Partyers in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, descended on luxury hotels outside Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, during a fireworks and laser light show.

“If you don’t celebrate, life will pass you by,” said Lujain Orfi, a 26-year-old tourist from the holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Large crowds gathered in the Serbian capital of Belgrade for outdoor concerts, fireworks and a light show where, unlike elsewhere in Europe, mass gatherings were allowed.

In Japan, masked revelers packed temples and shrines, dined and drank in downtown Tokyo and jam-packed shopping areas.

“I hope the holidays will be blessed for us all,” said Naoki Matsuzawa, a writer who lives in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo. He plans to spend the next few days volunteering to cook and deliver New Year’s food to the elderly.

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