Posts Tagged ‘Global Village Dubai’

Guide to the Global Village ~ Palestine Pavilion!

January 11th, 2012 8 comments

Oh, how I love the Palestine Pavilion. Since I don’t visit my husband’s country often, I get my Palestine fix wherever I can.

If you are unfamiliar with the Global Village, it’s a shopping and cultural extravaganza located outside Dubai. It runs during the winter months and represents 26 countries and two continents. To find out more, see my post Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes together.

Granted, the Palestine Pavilion used to be bigger and better in the past. Sadly, the pottery vendor stopped coming several years back. Likewise, the thob (hand-embroidered caftan) seller from Jerusalem no longer comes.

Alas, nothing stays the same!

What most visitors to the GV don’t realize is that it’s a great expense for vendors to come and sell their wares here. A large sum is required to rent a stall. If vendors come from outside Dubai, they must stay in hotels and pay for daily transportation. Some vendors simply cannot turn over a profit. On top of that, it can be quite complicated for those from Gaza and the West Bank to get their goods to Dubai.

And yet. There are still Palestinian vendors who make it. Many of them sell foodstuff, like these jokesters below.

For me, a visit to the Palestine pavilion has become food-shopping event. This year I bought delicious olive oil from Palestine, homemade strawberry jam, sumac and zataar (spices), pomegranate syrup, pickled eggplant, nuts and seeds. Here’s the nut vendor who insisted to give me complimentary sweets when he found out my Palestinian ties.

And I tasted a lot of samples of cheese in pita bread. A lot.

I also bought maftool, the large couscous pictured below in jars (whole wheat and regular).  In the US, this is sold and labeled as “Israeli couscous.” However, please note that this type of large couscous is actually Palestinian, as Palestinians were making it by hand before the state of Israel was invented.

As usual, the Palestine Pavilion includes items carved out of olive wood “from the Holy Land.”—mostly rosary beads, nativity scenes, ornaments, crosses, etc. These are the typical items sold in Bethlehem and the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem.

 Meanwhile, vendors here still sell Palestinian embroidery, typically red cross-stich on black, but also other colors and variations. Over the years, I have bought many hand-stitched dresses for my daughter at the Global Village—the iconic Palestinian thob. One year I bought a thob for myself—every inch hand-stitched, straight from Jerusalem. I love that thob.

Below is a sample of what is for sale this year.

Not surprisingly, it seems there is a gradual trend toward machine-stitching. While there are hand-stitched pillow covers for sale here, it seems that the floor-length caftans are mostly (if not all) machine-stitched. Again, nothing stays the same!

One thing we do every year is load up on patriotic accessories for my children to wear on International Day at their school. (All the nationalities do it!) This year my kids bought t-shirts, hats and scarves from this stall.

Finally, I caught the Palestinian cultural show inside the pavilion. It was a dramatic stage performance with dance. Even though I understood  only a little of the dialogue, I enjoyed the music, dance and costumes.

If you’d like to know more about the Global Village see my posts: The Yemen Pavilion, The Iraq Pavilion, The Africa Pavilion, and The Turkey Pavilion.

What is your favorite thing to buy at the Global Village?

Guide to the Global Village ~ Africa Pavilion!

January 8th, 2012 5 comments

For the past eleven years, the Africa pavilion has been one of my favorite must-see pavilions at the Global Village. Originally there were separate pavilions for Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, etc., but now all the African countries are grouped together in one large pavilion, save for the North African countries of Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia (more about those later).

If you are unfamiliar with the Global Village, it’s a fair-like shopping event located just outside Dubai in the winter months. To know more, see my post: Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes Together.

The first sight outside the Africa Pavilion is this group of Masai men (below). Their job is to pose for photographs (10 dirhams for 3 photos). They told me this clothing is their everyday clothes in Kenya. They also explained the earlobes of the man on the left: a prize for a lion he killed while on safari. I suspect they were pulling my leg on both accounts, but they all kept perfectly straight faces, so who knows?

On to shopping! What I love about the African Pavilion is the vast amount of unique, hand-crafted items, and the bargains galore. Most of the vendors are Kenyan, but there are other countries represented as well. I find nearly all the vendors speak excellent English and are more than willing to chat about their products: who made them, how they were crafted, and the story behind them. Some of the vendors make their own goods. It’s not surprising to see them knitting or weaving baskets between sales.

Many of the items here are 5 and 10 dirhams (less than $3), especially the small carvings of animals. In my experience, it’s a great place for children to shop—and to get lost as well, as this pavilion is big and often crowded. Here is a sample of some of the shops:


This woman below is from Madagascar, where she runs a basket-weaving business with natural hand dyes. I came here with three friends, and all four of us bought baskets. We love this shop.

According to my husband who has travelled to Kenya, he says the items are basically what one finds in Kenya, but cheaper. These are typical items. 

It’s also possible to find practical items, such as carved book ends, napkin rings, wooden salad tongs, carved soap stone bowls, and carved wooden bowls. I have bought many of these hand-carved salad utensils over the years. They are typically 10 dirhams ($3) a set. No need to bargain. 

I usually pick up a carved wooden salad bowl each year. Each one is different.

I also spent a lot of time in the Ethiopian coffee booth, run by two sisters from Ethiopia. They roasted a half a kilo of coffee beans for me, according to my specifications.


While I was waiting, I rested my feet and drank some of their coffee, dark and unsweetened, served in the Ethiopian style. Nice.

To find out more, see my posts on The Yemen Pavilion, The Iraq Pavilion, and The Turkey Pavilion.

Question: What are your impressions of the Africa Pavilion?