Want to travel around the world in eighty days? How about doing so in just a single day? The Global Village Dubai makes this dream a reality – a single ticket to experience the entire world. Scrumptious food, amazing shopping, mesmerizing stage performances, outstanding rides, breathtaking fireworks, and much more. What else could you wish for?
Shopping in the global village
Global Village is a shopper’s paradise with a beautiful blend of cultures. The more pavilions you explore, the more you want to fill your shopping bags. Over the past few years, some of the most loved and widely visited pavilions have been Turkey, Africa, Russia, China, and Iran. Having said that, each country offers something totally unique, so you still need to check out as many pavilions as your legs can stand (your lower body will start giving up after a few hours!).
The African pavilion literally/immerses you in Africa. Here you can find hand-woven jute bags, wooden utensils, beaded artwork and soap bars. The African items aren’t too expensive, considering that most of the stuff is handmade.
For instance, you can buy a wooden teaspoon for only 10 AED. A bigger ladle will cost you just 30 AED. And, the quality is excellent – it’s not some synthetic wood we are talking about, it’s actual real sturdy wood! The price however increases when it comes to a jute bag. There are different kinds of jute products, most of which are dyed in bright colours. The beautiful contrast of dark wood with bright colours is enough to attract a large crowd of people who end up buying more than they could carry. For this reason, the Global Village management started a “trolley-system” from the last season where a shopping cart is allocated to you along with a helper (Typical Dubai!) who is responsible for pushing the trolley and taking care of your stuff. As for more bargains a 50 AED jute multipurpose jute bag could be quite expensive around the world, but here at the African pavilion, you can find yourself buying two! And it doesn’t stop here, wooden furniture and decorative items such as masks, hand fans and wall-hangings are beautiful. The prices seem uniform throughout the various shops inside the pavilion, but if you bargain, they may consider lowering it down. Each year their pavilion is beautifully decorated with African art and the live tribal music could be heard from afar.
China is another crowd favourite. If you think half of the products around the world are “Made in China”, wait till you see the other half at their pavilion. You will be surprised to see the variety and prices, though the products are sometimes of dubious quality. You can buy hair-clips and decorative items for as low as 10 AED. The stationery shop as well as the clothes shops are definitely some of the crowd favourites as you can buy trendy stuff at a very low price. The China pavilion also sells dry food items like prawn and fish crackers which will definitely remind you of your trip to a good Chinese restaurant.
One pavilion that draws you in like the Bermuda Triangle is Turkey. From the first shop to the last, you cannot walk past a single shop without stopping. Even if you are not into painted glass lamps, wall hangings, and hand-painted cutlery, you end up spending hours in these shops. You will find a large number of people who only enter these shops to take selfies with the Turkish art – and you cannot blame them, Turkish artwork is beautiful and expensive at the same time. If you have been to China or Africa’s pavilions before coming here, you will find the Turkish shops quite expensive by comparison. However, the quality is a hundred times better and since most of the stuff is hand-painted or hand-crafted, each item looks and feels like quality. For example, 10 AED can only buy you a Turkish cone ice-cream, and only if you are lucky. Prices normally start from 50 AED from which you can get an earring or a quarter plate, and reach up to thousands of dirhams for hand-painted wall-art. In case you are looking for a souvenir, you can go to the metal or ceramic shops to get a beautifully painted decorative piece starting from 200 AED. But it won’t be just any decorative item, every piece has a history to it – you can find “whirling dervish” (inspired by Rumi and his followers), Turkish coffee sets (tiny glass cups in which Turkish people drink their coffee called “qahwa”) and a large number of other items. If you have a sweet-tooth, you cannot leave the Turkish pavilion without getting a box or two of the wonderfully unique candies they sell known as “Turkish Delights”. A lot of people buy them to take back home as these Turkish Delights are a flavor-bomb of taste and texture.
What surprises most of the visitors is the Iran pavilion. As opposed to how the news channels around the globe portray Iran, it is a traditionally rich country with some unique carpet making skills. The 3D art of the Iranian carpets is something you will not find anywhere in the world. You may find some pretty awesome carpets and rugs in Afghanistan, Morocco and Pakistani shops, yet the handwoven intricate details have proven that there is no match for Iranian carpets. For this reason, the price of a small rug can be anywhere from 5000 AED – and that’s just the starting price. Another thing that sets the Iranian pavilion apart is the huge variety of dry fruit. If you think your country produces some pretty awesome dry-fruit, try one from their shops – organic, flavourful and double the size! Quite expensive and rightly so, you may find yourself spending more than you should.
If you are a fan of Babushka dolls, go to the Russian pavilion to buy some original pieces. Not as expensive as the Iranian or Turkish decorative items (and mostly not handmade), you can find decorative pieces and wall-hangings starting from as low as 30 AED. Candles, photo-frames, soap-bars and hair accessories can be bought, costing 50 AED to 100 AED. If you are a fan of Russian embroidery, you can buy Russian frocks that have vibrant colours and could cost around 200 AED or more. There are no try-rooms anywhere though, so make sure you know your size.
If you are a leather or wood fan, you should find the Pakistan pavilion quite impressive. From simple wooden trays to hand-carved wooden chairs and tables decorated with ivory – you can find some really nice furniture here that can surely give your living room the wow-factor. They take care of transporting the furniture safely to your home so you don’t have to worry about the logistics. Leather goods like jackets, shoes, belts, wallets and jewelry organizers are also a crowd favourite here. Both leather and wood products are expensive but as compared to some other countries where the tourism is more developed (like Sri lanka and India), you will find the same products cheaper here. You can also find their colourful clothes called “Shalwar Qameez” which are beautifully embroidered and are not too expensive (around 80 AED for a top that you can wear on your jeans). The Pakistani stall also offers crackers, chips and a large number of munching items. You can buy a small packet of “Nimko” (dried pretzel-like snack item) for just 15 AED.
Arabian stalls (Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, etc.) offer you some of the best dates, scarves and perfumes. Since dates are grown in abundance in all these Arab countries, you can find a large variety of these at different prices. The priciest of all the dates is called “Ajwa” and it comes from Saudi Arabia. Depending upon the quality of country of origin, the price of one pound (almost half a kilogram) of dates could be as low as 30 AED or as high as 400 AED. Arabs have a love for some really potent perfumes. The perfumes commonly referred to as “Oud” have a super large variety. They come in the tiniest bottles with the strongest of smells. You can find an Oud for as low as 50 AED to as high as 500 AED, or even more at some specialized Oud shops.
There are dozens of other pavilions jam-packed with different kinds of shops including Italy, France, Morocco, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt, etc.
Dining in the global village
Global Village is heaven for food lovers. You can find your favourite food from around the world. You can try different cuisines to see if it suits your palate.
Whether you like sweet or savory, you have a wide (read as ginormous) variety to choose from. As soon as you enter the Global Village, you will find people enjoying all sorts of finger foods. Potato chips on a stick, flavoured popcorn, mini-pancakes in a paper bowl, cotton candy, Turkish cone ice-cream and Baklawa (an Arabic dessert made up of vermicelli and cheese) are popular with the crowd. The “chips on a stick” costs around 10 AED to 15 AED, and it comes in different flavours (you can have a spicy Cajun flavor, a mayo dip or a simple salt one). The smell of pop-corn in the air gives the Global Village a more carnival feel. You can have buttered popcorn, caramel or cheese flavoured, depending upon your liking. The flavoured popcorns are normally around 15 AED whereas the plain buttered ones are 10AED. The prices of desserts vary though – the mini-pancakes are around 35 AED (normally topped with Nutella), Turkish ice-cream is around 10 AED and Arabic Baklawa is somewhere around 30AED. Whether the weather is hot or cold, one thing is always a big hit, and that is the “Karak Chai” – an Indian version of very sweet English breakfast tea. Though the portion size is small, the tea is heavy due to the use of evaporated milk in it. The tea is light on pocket though with a cup costing about 5 or 10AED .
There are a few restaurants that you will see every year, while others could be there for a single season only. One of the more popular is the Bundoo Khan Restaurant which is a Pakistani restaurant serving some delicious barbequed items (chicken, beef, mutton and fish), a good variety of bread (fried, garlic, or plain naan bread) and some good variety of spicy gravies. If you are really hungry, you can have a proper meal for 50AED. But do keep in mind that if you haven’t tried spicy food before, you should probably let this one go.
If you like kebabs and skewers, you can explore restaurants like Bosnian Kebab, Kebab Shiraz, Yalla Kaak or Tunisian Bites. You can have a skewer or a shawarma from anywhere around 30 to 50AED. If you don’t want to be too adventurous, you can find safer fast food options like the KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and McDonald’s. Their meal-deals start as low as 20AED.
There is a food street which has dozens of food kiosks and carts. You can find refreshing drinks, shakes, slushes, donuts, pizzas and pastas. The food items here are cheaper but you don’t have a proper place to sit. You can pick your paper plate or cup and sit on a close by bench (that’s if you could find space). But if you don’t – tough. The kiosks take no responsibility for your seating arrangement.
You will also find lots of carts selling roasted corn, peanuts and Turkish chestnuts. You will see a number of Moroccan tea-sellers carrying huge kettles on their backs with dozens of teacups hanging around their waist – a concept of having a “human tea-shop”! Locally called “qahwa”, you can enjoy this cup of tea for around 5 AED.
Do not expect to find too many fancy restaurants inside the Global Village. It’s more about the experience than the luxury. But rest assured, whatever you eat is fresh, delicious and authentic.
Whether you want to try a new cuisine or find your favourite food item, Global Village will definitely fill your tummy with some super yummy food.
Entertainment in the global village
As if the shopping and dining out weren’t entertaining enough, Global Village offers a huge entertainment park for families to enjoy. There are rides for all ages. Costing around 15AED per ride. You can be a dare-devil or you may enjoy the Merry go Round with your toddler – it’s totally up to you. The huge Ferris wheel is a Global Village icon that can be seen from kilometers away. Although you may find a number of good Ferris wheels in the UAE ( for instance the Qasba Emirates Eye in Sharjah or the Dubai Ain), this one is no comparison when it comes to national or international wheels. So if you have been on the Singapore Flyer, the Melbourne Star, or the London Eye, do not try the Global Village one with too much high hopes. However if it’s the first time you have been to one, you can give it a go.
The fireworks of the Global Village are something to look forward to. Normally taking place around 9 pm daily, this 5 minutes of breathtaking display of lights, sounds and colours will leave you mesmerized.
The internal artificially created lakes are a beautiful site where visitors can take boat rides. The ticket may start from 30 AED and up.
Every pavilion has stage performances. This includes singing, solo performances, group dancing and acrobats. Some pavilions have magic shows for kids which the adults seem to love as well. The Indian pavilion is especially liked because of its Bollywood performances, and the Moroccan stage shows are also a crowd pleaser. You should also look for the Egyptian belly-dancers either at the Egypt pavilion or at the big stage that is located in the middle of the Global Village. Performers from around the world come to entertain the public at this big stage and you don’t need to buy a separate ticket to enjoy their performances. However, you could find a lot of rush during these performances (they take place in the open air) in the Global Village, which could be a discomfort for people who came for shopping or dining only.
There is a stunt section where you can sit to enjoy car and motor bike stunts and even the giant monster trucks. Though most of these are free to watch, there is usually a long queue. You can always watch these stunt performances on the Big Screen instead, which is right in the middle of the Global Village ground.
Being a true family entertainment, you can find everything for everyone, so the entire family can visit and enjoy. No one comes out of Global Village empty-handed and without a smile. Global Village is open in cooler months (October to April) so the public can enjoy without worrying about the heat. Every year it gets bigger and better – more shops, more entertainment, more stage performances (concerts, cultural shows, etc.) and more food to indulge in. In short, Global Village is better than any carnival you have been to! Don’t believe me? Come and check it out yourself!