Back to Africa Check

South African flag lit up Burj Khalifa in Dubai on 27 April 2020, not during #SouthAfricaIsBurning protests

A photo of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, lit up with the colours of the South African flag has been shared on Facebook

The skyscraper is in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The photo was shared with the caption: “Burj Khalifa lights up for South Africa. We are all praying for South Africa.” 

The same photo is also circulating on Twitter with a similar caption and the hashtag #SouthAfricaIsBurning

Protests broke out in the South African provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng after former president Jacob Zuma handed himself over to serve a 15-month jail sentence on 8 July 2021

Photos and videos of the looting, damage and violence have been shared across social media platforms tagged #SouthAfricaIsBurning and #ShutdownSA.

But was the Burj Khalifa lit up with the South African flag in response to current protests?


Freedom Day 2020

A Google search of “Burj Khalifa South African flag” revealed many news reports and a South African Dubai consulate record that confirm the photo was taken when to mark the South African national holiday Freedom Day in 2020. 

Freedom Day is celebrated on 27 April and marks the first democratic election held in South Africa in 1994.

The photo of the Burj Khalifa is not from 2021 and unrelated to recent South African protests.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.