Burj Khalifa lit up with Sri Lankan flag following Easter attacks in 2019, not 2022 cricket win

·3 min read

A photo of the Burj Khalifa lit up with the colours of Sri Lanka's national flag was shared thousands of times by Facebook posts saying it showed the world's tallest building celebrating the island's victory in the Asia Cup cricket series in September 2022. In fact, the photo was taken in April 2019, when the flag was projected onto Dubai's iconic skyscraper following the Easter Sunday bombings that rocked Sri Lanka's capital Colombo.

"Burj Khalifa, Dubai #AsiaCup2022 Congratulations, Sri Lanka," reads a Facebook post with more than 7,500 shares.

The post was published on September 12, a few hours after the Sri Lankan cricket team beat Pakistan to clinch the Asia Cup title in Dubai.

Screenshot of a Facebook post sharing the false claim, taken on September 15, 2022

The same image was shared in similar Facebook posts here and here, prompting a flurry of comments praising the apparent gesture.

"What an honour! Thank you Dubai for celebrating with us," one person wrote.

"Proud to be Sri Lankan. Thank you for your great friendship Dubai," said another.

However, the photo was taken in April 2019. Moreover, the iconic skyscraper did not display the Sri Lankan flag following the Asia Cup win.

Bombings commemoration

A reverse image search on Google found the photo in AFP's archives, which showed it was taken on April 25, 2019.

The flag was displayed following the Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo on April 21, 2019, in which 258 people died when Islamic State-backed local jihadists targeted churches and hotels.

The photo from AFP's archives, taken on April 25, 2019 ( AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE)

The photo caption in AFP's archives reads: "A picture taken on April 25, 2019 shows the Gulf emirate's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper, lit with an image of Sri Lanka's national flag in solidarity with the country following the April 21 'terrorist' attacks against hotels and churches celebrating Easter that killed more than 200 people."

The photo was taken by AFP photographer Giuseppe Cacace.

The Burj Khalifa's official Twitter account published a similar image the same day.

The building is regularly lit up with displays to commemorate events around the world.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, pictures of the late monarch and the British flag were projected onto the tower.

There have been no official reports about the Burj Khalifa being lit up to celebrate Sri Lanka's victory in the Asia Cup.

The tower's management did not respond to AFP's request for comment.

AFP has previously debunked misinformation about light displays on the Burj Khalifa here, here and here.