A surreal melting pot of culture at Dubai's Global Village

Saket Suman

Dubai, March 3 (IANS) If Delhi Haat in India's capital fascinates you with its offerings from all parts of the country, this iconic family destination and entertainment adda for adults brings together snapshots of cultural extravaganzas from across the world in one massive open sky emporium here.

Global Village is the largest seasonal cultural extravaganza in the region that offers visitors an amazing array of festivals, shopping and entertainment in an open-air theme park.

This entertainment and shopping destination is open from November through to April and hosts over 70 participating countries presented in over 36 pavilions, with more than 50 fun rides and 26 restaurants offering food from around the world.

And still it is but a big surprise as it does not exist for half of the year. Every year, it is constructed from scratch around November and dismantled the following April. The makeover is different every year, new themes are introduced and thus, even those who visit regularly find it stunningly amazing.

Just like this city, Global Village comes from humble beginnings, starting out with just a number of kiosks in 1996 located on the Creek Side opposite the Dubai Municipality. It moved to another location before finally settling at its present location in Dubailand.

For some strange reason, the Indian pavilion catches your attention almost instantly. Not only because it is the largest pavilion at Global village but just as you enter the destination, a massive replica of the Taj Mahal sort of enchants you and prepares the mood for a visit.

While songs like "Kajra Re" and "Kal Ho Na Ho" are attracting Bollywood fans, it is the ethereal elements like the shenai and the traditional Indian bioscope, taking you on an all-India ride in just two minutes, that makes it memorable even for Indian visitors.

With more than 300 stalls, the Indian pavilion exhibits and sells some authentic Indian products varying from cotton, silk, chiffon fabrics to traditional leather made sandals, handbags, wallets and accessories. Indian carpet exhibitors are also present to express Indian forms and shapes of hand-woven natural silk and fleece, jewellry, cloths and home accessories.

Some 300 metres ahead is the Pakistani pavilion, no lesser attractive or magnificent than the Indian one.

It hosts a large number of exhibitors showcasing leather goods, cotton fabrics and various traditional items and home accessories. Its narrow lanes, dotted with tiny shops selling leather jackets, samosas or even jhaalmuri, seem straight out of some Lahori gali.

This is not all. Adding to the many stories of friendships of Indians and Pakistanis abroad are a large number of sellers and shopkeepers from the two countries here. Many sellers shared their touching stories of friendships and said that Indians and Pakistanis are "too friendly to even argue, except for cricket".

The US and Russia relations may be anticipated to improve under the Trump administration but at the Global Village, the pavillions of Russia and the Americas co-eistand right next to each other.

The Americas' pavilion brings a wide range of interesting products that represent North, Central and South America. The facade is inspired by the Capitol building in Washington D.C. and the Cathedral in Mexico City.

The pavilion's rear facade depicts the Washington monument. The products and services offered within allow for a sampling of the lifestyles and tastes of the 48 countries in North and South America. The pavilion welcomes visitors to discover the culture and tradition of this culture rich region and experience live performances of various dance styles that originated in this part of the world.

Step out and enter the Russian pavilion. From the famous Onion Domes of Red Square to the Matryoshka dolls, Ladel spoons, Samovars and traditional Russian costumes, the whole package is too much to sum in a few words. Indulge in the rich culture of the former Soviet Union with all your senses.

Another interesting pavilion is from Africa, perhaps the most suitable if you are looking for some authentic stuff at a bargain.

The pavilion represents more than 15 countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Angola, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Rwanda, Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa and Nigeria. Most of these countries showcase their authentic products as well as their art, wealth and traditions. The pavilion's prevalent offering is hand-carved artifacts. The intricate designs are made from the best type of wood in the world such as ebony, mahogany and rosewood, as well as soapstone.

What actually makes the Global Village appealing is its Bazar like design. From bargains to haunted houses, all things here seem a bigger and better replica of what the Indian circus melas once used to be.

(Saket Suman is in Dubai at the invitation of Dubai Tourism. He can be contacted at saket.s@ians.in)

--IANS

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