It is not every day that a single village serves as a nesting ground for 31 countries and four continents. In the case of Global Village at this year’s Dubai Shopping Festival, the 80-day long whirlwind trip also provides a stable environment for smaller businesses to flourish in a thriving marketplace.
For people like Abbas Khan, who runs a small yet successful kiosk in the Afghan pavilion, the festival has ensured a steady supply of customers at his leather shop; plus the bad weather has provided the additional help.
He said: “This year has been exceptionally good for us, thanks to the cold weather. Everyday, I manage to sell 45 to 50 leather jackets and weekends are a special bonus because you find a lot of impromptu buyers in parents who are looking for something warm for their children.”
Khan, who hopes to return to the DSF attraction next year, is not among the first traders to do so.
Waheed Abdul Hameed, administrative manager of Ravi Restaurant is celebrating his eighth year at Global Village. “Every year, demand seems to be increasing, so much so that as of last year, we even opened a second branch of Ravi within Global Village – one on the restaurant strip and the other at the Pakistan pavilion. The restaurant has one central kitchen on site, which provides food to both locations.”
Last year, Global Village attracted 4.2 million visitors. For the small business owners behind the 50 to 80 kiosks in each pavilion, it is foot traffic that brings in those with spending potential and promises good takings.
This season, Global Village is set to attract a record-breaking number of five million tourists. And by the end of this year, the DSF tourist attraction will have a permanent resting ground at Tatweer’s Dubailand, which will not only guarantee year-round business for the smaller traders, but also ensure more than 1,000 jobs on site and an annual foot traffic of nearly 20 million visitors once all three phases of its expansion are complete by 2011.
Speaking about its future expansion plans, Abdul Redha Ali bin Redha, Chief Executive of Global Village, said in a statement: “Once our permanent structure for Global Village is ready by 2011, it will provide cultural entertainment and add to the attractions that are already present in this city.”
The second phase, which will only be implemented after this season’s run, will see a retail area with 80 high street outlets and a state-of-the-art amusement park. Over the next few years, a 560-room five-star hotel, along with a three-star hotel and more than 1,000 residential units are also on the cards.
Talking about the future prospects of Global Village, Laila Suhail, CEO of DSF, said: “Over the years, Global Village has become its own entity, and with its permanent structure ready over the next few years, we will see it as a standalone major tourist attraction of Dubai.”
Best Bargains this DSF
Where: Saudi Arabian pavilion.
The Saudi pavilion is always a big draw with customers for its traditional Arabian dates. “There is a huge demand for Saudi dates, specially Al Khalas, known for their exceptional taste,” says Ahmed Abdullah, a vendor.
Price: Range from Dh20 up to Dh200.
Where: Afghan and Pakistan pavilions.
If the cold weather has you in its grip, then a quick stop at either of these pavilions will guarantee a cheap bargain and some warm comfort. Jackets are priced as low as Dh100.
Beware of fakes though. The best way to tell fake leather from cheap plastic is to ask the vendor to burn the leather for you.
Price: From Dh100.
Where: India and Pakistan pavilions.
Exquisite silver and gold jewellery can be yours for reasonable prices at either pavilion. But if your budget is limited, then opt for the fakes that are available for a bargain price of Dh50 and upwards.
Traditional Rajasthani necklaces are a particular crowd pleaser, along with ankle bracelets.
Price: Bargain price of Dh50.
Where: Morocco and Syrian pavilions.
Morocco is renowned for its exquisite handwork on traditional jellabiyahs, but this year, Syria is in a close running. Silks and chiffons are encrusted with intricate beadwork and sequins. Prices can shoot up, depending on the detailing of work.
Price: From Dh300.
Where: Afghan and Iran pavilions.
Ideally, the Iran pavilion would be your best bet for a traditional Persian carpet, but this year the vendors at the Afghan pavilion have outdone themselves with variety and design.
For prices starting as low as Dh500, going all the way up to Dh20,000, you can take home a treasure providing you know how to select the real deal.
Price: From Dh500 to Dh20,000.
TRADITIONAL CEDAR WOOD ART
Where: Lebanese pavilion.
Despite the absence of an actual cedar tree in the pavilion, its distinguished wood features are visible all over the pavilion’s walls. Visitors can see Lebanese craftsmen engraving verses from the Holy Quran, poetry, or names on beautifully crafted cedar pieces, a common scene inside the pavilion.
Price: From Dh15 up to Dh2,000.
Global Village aims for 20m visitors by 2011