Watch Out Dubai! Mumbai’s Now Got Its Own Night Bazaar

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Are you among those who flock to the Dubai Shopping Festival every January? This year, there’s one at home.

The first Mumbai Shopping Festival, modelled around similar events in Dubai, Singapore and Istanbul, kicked off in the second week of January. This weekend, apart from a variety of live performances across the city, there was also a night bazaar.

“Some of the best shopping festivals in the world have 8,000-9,000 retailers who participate. If we take one geography in Mumbai; if I take Crawford Market, or a Malad, we’ll have 15,000 retailers here,” said Rahul Gomes, the head of Oaks Management Consultancy, the event management firm that’s organising the festival. “The intent is to grow this into the largest shopping festival in the world, because we have the population here. We have family, we all have friends, who fly down to Mumbai to shop.”

This year, the festival is spread over three weekends. As an experiment, it’s been a success, Gomes said.

On the first weekend, as many as 45,000 people visited the night market along the Worli seaface. If the crowd at 10 p.m. at Malad’s Inorbit Mall was any indicator, the footfall on Friday night would far exceed that number.

The recent amendment to the Shops and Establishments Act by the Maharashtra government allowing businesses to stay open at night has already started benefiting retailers, said Rajat Bhargava, head of Inorbit Mall. “The Christmas weekend and the New Year weekend, we were open past midnight.”

"That has helped a lot. Retailers are now participating in keeping shops open till midnight for sure. They’ve started doing it on the weekends. As the awareness grows, you’re going to have more people visiting." - Rajat Bhargava, Head, Inorbit Mall

The festival gave several foodtrucks an opportunity to ply their trade. Rules don’t allow such trucks in public places in Mumbai. But a mall is considered a private property. So, at the Inorbit Mall night bazaar, visitors were treated to foodtrucks serving everything from maggi bhel to a fusion of Malayali and North Indian cuisines. From the look of it, they did brisk business.

Also on offer were Maharashtrian traditional wares and several families had set up stalls. Even an amateur magician was entertaining children.

Will the festival in the world’s fourth most populous city weave its magic in the years to come? Dubai will be watching!

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