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Guide to the Global Village

November 6th, 2013 13 comments

Dubai's Global Village, canal ride

As an expat, one day I will eventually leave Dubai. One of the things I will miss most will be the Global Village, a shopping extravaganza out in the desert with pavilions representing 31 countries and one continent. The Global Village has both a global feel and a State Fair feel. For me, it’s about the shopping—unique handmade global items—but also the multicultural entertainment and cheap street food.

Yes, the Global Village has seen many changes over the years. It originally started as a small fair on the Creek in 1997, lasting one month & launched with the Dubai Shopping Festival. Now a separate entity, the Global Village is permanently located in Dubai Land on Emirates Road.

This year the Global Village is better than ever in terms of facilities, entertainment, organization, and quality of goods.

Global Village, entertainment

Guide to the Global Village

1. Go early. Gates open at 4:00; arrive near opening time for good parking and no lines. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a sweater for those chilly winter nights. Also, bring a heavy-duty shopping bag to haul your goods.

2. Get a map inside near the entrance and plan your strategy. For the most authentic experience, I suggest starting with pavilions representing countries from the region.

3. Don’t plan to visit all the pavilions in one go. Be selective and take your time. Also, give yourself time for the multicultural entertainment, food from the region, and maybe amusement rides.

4. Keep an open mind. Pavilions change from year to year. If the Egypt and Turkey pavilions were disappointing in past years, it doesn’t mean it’s the case this year. In fact, these pavilions are currently very worthwhile.

5. Shop, shop, shop. Bring lots of cash, preferably in small bills. Also, bring your bank card as an ATM backup in case you see something unexpectedly amazing.

6. For objects with prices of more than twenty or thirty dirhams, it’s a good idea to bargain—but do so with a smile.

7. In addition to trinkets, handmade items, carpets and textiles, think food. Among the unique foodstuff on offer: honey from Yemen, saffron from Iran, zataar from Lebanon, olive oil from Palestine, tea from Morocco, and baklava from Turkey.

8. When the vendors hand out food samples, try them. This will provide sustenance for more shopping. One stroll through the Palestine pavilion can add up to a light meal.

9. When your feet start to hurt, it’s time to eat an actual meal. Have Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian “street food” and watch the world go by. You’ll even a find a few proper restaurants this year, such as Reem Al Bawadi. After a good rest, look at your map and strategize your next round of shopping.  

10. The Global Village saw 500,000 visitors over the past Eid Al-Adha break. If you dislike crowds, avoid the weekend and national holidays. Arrive super-early.

Favorite Pavilions

With so many pavilions, it’s hard to choose, but here are my favorites:

YEMEN PAVILION: Sample and buy delicious honey from Yemen, as well as spices and nuts. Other unique items are antiques and jewelry. You can even pick up a curved dagger here. Stalls are manned by chatty Yemeni men in traditional dress—including the required dagger at the belt.

Dubai Global Village, Yemen Pavilion, jewelry antiques

AFRICA PAVILION For me, this is the must-see pavilion, as it overflows with unique hand-crafted items from Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. Find items such jewelry, drums, African art, hand-woven baskets, crocheted items, coffee beans as well as carved wooden items of all kinds, including bowls, bookends and African figures.

Dubai Global Village, Africa Pavilion, wooden bowls

TURKEY PAVILION This is a fantastic place to stop for a sweet snack—either Turkish delight, baklava, Turkish ice cream—or all three! For something savory, try the fried potato swirls on a stick. Find exquisite items for the home, such as colorful Turkish pottery, samovars, as well as Ottoman and mosaic lamps.

Dubai Global Village, Turkey Pavilion, pottery

PALESTINE PAVILION Buy foodstuff from Palestine: olive oil, zataar, sumac, olives, flavored cheeses and more. Also find the iconic Palestinian embroidery, as well as items carved from olive wood: ornaments, rosary beads, and nativity scenes—the typical items from Bethlehem and Jerusalem. While you are there, you might catch the debbke dancers.

Global Village, Dubai, Palestine Pavilion Thobs

MOROCCO PAVILION This is the place to create your Moroccan lair. Get a silver Moroccan teapot, as well as colorful tea glasses, a tea tray and a box of tea to go with. Also find Moroccan clothing, pointy leather slippers and the gorgeous pottery of Morocco. Discover cooking items such as clay tagines and couscous cooking pots, foodstuff such as harisa—as well as decorative hands of Fatima.

Global Village, Dubai, Morocco Pavilion, Tea shop

More Pavilions to See

It’s so hard to narrow the list down. Here are more pavilions I’m enjoying this year:

AFGHANISTAN Explore rare antique items. Pick out some colorful Afghan clothing or a winter coat. Take home a carpet or a kilim. Or simply buy foodstuff and nuts. 

TUNISIA Discover food-related items such as wooden cooking utensils, pottery, decorative tagines, olive oil and Tunisian foodstuff. Try on some leather sandals or hand-painted jewelry. Take home a kilim.

INDIA At the largest pavilion explore textiles galore, as well as footwear, jewelry, kitchen items, and more. 

SPAIN Experience Andalucía! Find Spanish saffron, olive oil, colorful clothing, jewelry, espadrilles footwear, as well as tapas and other foodstuff.

EGYPT Bring home some Egyptian cotton underwear, pajamas and traditional Egyptian clothing. Find papyrus prints, cat statues and heads of Nefertiti. And don’t forget the belly dance gear!

IRAN Stock up on Iranian saffron, as well as tablecloths, Persian carpets, jewelry, and traditional art. Find nuts and Iranian food; listen to some Iranian music.

JORDAN Buy some pottery or an embroidered thob. Sample food and bring home olives and zataar. 

PAKISTAN Pick out a leather jacket for yourself—or maybe a leather purse. Find colorful fabrics and other textiles.

Global Village, Dubai, Debke dancing

Basic Facts

1. The Global Village runs from October 5th, 2013 to March 1st, 2014.

2. Timings: Weekdays 4:00pm to midnight; Fridays 4:00pm to 1:00am

3. The entry cost is 15 dirhams.

4. The Global Village is located in Dubai Land on Emirates Road, Exit 37.

5. The Global Village is in its 18th season, running since 1997. In recent years, the Global Village received 4.5 million visitors per season.

6. You’ll find more than 28 pavilions from around the world, as well as canal boat rides and amusement rides in the newly launched Fantasy Island Funfair.

What’s your favorite item or pavilion at theGlobal Village?

Guide to the Global Village ~ Jordan Pavilion, plus Iran, Lebanon & Morocco!

January 17th, 2012 7 comments

I have made many trips to Jordan, so I always enjoy this pavilion. For me this year, the biggest hit of the Jordan Pavilion was the entertainment.

If you’re new to the Global Village, it’s a huge fair-like shopping and cultural event that runs during the winter months and is located just outside Dubai. To know more, see my post Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes Together.

As for shopping at the Jordan pavilion, one of the first things you see is the cross-stitch thobs. These are the traditional Palestinian variety.

Also, the Jordan Pavilion has lots of Arabic foodstuff, namely, olive oil, pickles, cheeses, zataar, etc.

I bought some olives here.

I discovered something delicious in this pavilion: “figs in honey,” a thick, chunky kind of jam. It was one of those samples that you casually accept, and then stop in your tracks and ask, “What is this?” I bought 500 g which we gobbled up in our house, eating off the spoon.

This year, my favorite part of the Jordan Pavilion was the debke dancing. There’s an entertainment schedule on the Global Village website. However, I’m never that organized. Instead I stumble upon these shows by luck, as was the case in the Jordan Pavilion. This troupe was good, very enthusiastic and the highlight of that GV visit.

Other Global Village Highlights

There are 28 pavilions at the Global Village, too many for me to list here. Instead, I’ll mention a few more that I have enjoyed this winter.

The Iran Pavilion

This pavilion has seen better days in past years. However, it’s still worth a visit–if only for the quiet Iranian restaurant inside. It’s a good place to buy a carpet. Plus, I have found Iranian tablecloths, tiles and pottery here in the past. I have also bought my share of jewelry here over the years.

The one thing I buy regularly at this pavilion is Iranian saffron. If I remember correctly, a tiny bottle is 80 dirhams ($22) and a very tiny bottle is 40 dirhams ($11). Of course, there are whole tins for the serious foodies. Below is the shop that sells saffron.

I caught some Iranian music (again, it was luck).

The Lebanon Pavilion

The Lebanon pavilion features the foodstuff of the Levant: olive oil, cheeses, Arabic sweets, etc. One thing I enjoyed was the fresh bread near the entrance. These women refused to let me pay for the gigantic round bread they gave me, hot off the grill.

The Lebanon pavilion also has serving items for the home, like trays and platters. There are purses, jewelry and other accessories. However, I was happy to find something I couldn’t find at other pavilions: olive oil soap.

The Morocco Pavilion

I love this pavilion. It deserves a post of its own. Many of the stalls here are actually from home décor boutiques in Dubai. Not a bargain, but lovely to stroll through to admire the gorgeous Moroccan lamps, furniture, tiled tables, fountains, pottery, etc. (I can dream, can’t I?)

There are smaller items such as pottery and these mirrors, still a splurge though.

In past years, I have bought pointy leather slippers in this pavilion, as well as small cans of harissa, decorative jewelry boxes, and hand of Fatima accessories. But I usually head straight for the Moroccan tea paraphernalia. This is the place to buy silver Moroccan tea pots and trays, as well as colorful tea glasses.

This year, I bought Moroccan green tea and mint at this shop, where you can also pick up a clay tagine and everything else needed to make and serve Moroccan mint tea.

For details on specific pavilions, check out my posts: The Yemen Pavilion, The Iraq Pavilion, The Turkey Pavilion, The Africa Pavilion, The Palestine Pavilion, and The Egypt Pavilion.

Question: What do you like to buy at the Global Village? 

Guide to the Global Village ~ Egypt Pavilion!

January 13th, 2012 10 comments

Every year I get one amazing item from the Global Village that I treasure above all. This year, I thought it would be that hand of Fatima necklace I bought in the Turkey Pavilion.

Not so.

This time my prized purchase came from the Egypt pavilion. Honestly, in years past this pavilion was a bit disappointing. So much so that I skipped going for some years. But this year was different.

I came. I saw. I bought.

In case you don’t know, the Global Village is located outside Dubai; it’s a fair-like shopping and cultural event that runs during the winter months. To find out more, see Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes together.

Near the entrance to the Egypt Pavilion, these two guys dressed as King Tut made me smile. They were working on “traditional” Egyptian crafts, such as hieroglyphic bookmarks. I think it’s going to be a long four months for these two.

Meanwhile, the Egypt pavilion naturally offers the predictable papyrus leaf prints, busts of Nefertiti, cat statues, etc.

Your children can have their names written up in hieroglyphics–just like in Egypt.

There’s Arabic musical intruments such as the oud (or lute).

Also, you’ll find dresses made of Egyptian cotton.

And Egyptian cotton underwear, too.

Of course, there are Egyptian nuts and sweets. Notice the traditional fabric decorating the walls.

Around the corner I found a similar cotton fabric in different colors—this fabric has the motifs of traditional Egyptian tents, which are seen all over the Middle East on special occasions.

I bought two yards of the blue for less than $10 total, enough fabric to make a festive tablecloth.

So, the tent fabric was nice. But not as thrilling as what I found in this shop. I noticed the hand-appliquéd quilts right away.

Hand- appliquéd quilts made in Egypt? Yes, it’s true. Egypt has an appliqué tradition that goes back to their tent-making. As the demand for tents has gone down, the tentmakers now use their skills to make quilts, wall hangings, pillow covers and other items for the home. The designs are based on Islamic motifs, all done by hand and made by men (!!)

I learned about these quilts when I belonged to the Dubai Quilters Guild, where members were always showing off recent quilt acquisitions from Cairo. I decided that if I ever visited Cairo again, I would track down Kheiymiya Street (The Alley of the Tentmakers, south of Bab Zweila) and get one of these quilts.

Well. I didn’t need to travel after all. This is the quilt I bought in the Global Village—entirely hand-made—my prized purchase for 320 dirhams ($85). As a quilter myself, I know the work involved with applique like this.

If you are interested in buying one of these quilts, I suggest going the last weeks of the Global Village and bargaining heavily. You may get a good deal. Here’s are a detail of my quilt.

 If you’d like to see other Egyptian quilts, more spectacular than this, view the first few minutes of this short video.

For details on specific pavilions, check out my posts: The Yemen Pavilion, The Iraq Pavilion, The Turkey Pavilion, The Africa Pavilion, and The Palestine Pavilion.