The 21st season of Global Village has been one of the most exciting and popular ones so far, with a record number of visitors. Having lived in Dubai for over five years, I do enjoy the vibrant melting-pot of cultures that the place brings to life each year, but there was a certain grace and grandeur to the festivities this year that made it stand out for me.
While the list of things to check out would take more than one blog post, here are some of the highlights of the festival that left me with the fondest memories.
This edition blew me away with the sheer diversity of the food that I could sample. There is a brand new Kiosk street for those who need their street food fix, and over 150 unique culinary experiences to choose from.
While I’m hoping that the warm and aromatic pistachio kunafa and baklava at the Turkey Pavilion and the Swiss cheese-smothered potatoes at Raclette make a comeback next season, I was pleasantly surprised by some quirky, inventive creations as well.
Yuki No Hana offers an enormous cotton candy sundae, and the Emirati rigag (which looks just like a dosa) is generously stuffed with cheese. Not to forget, the Flamin’ Pumpkin Halloween-themed drinks with liquid nitrogen are eerie and totally Instagram worthy.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve taken friends and family to Global Village. With the magnanimity of scale and a plethora of shopping outlets inside each country pavilion, you can never run out of things to snag a good deal on.
So, this season I got an awesome bargain on these Spanish Silver handmade leather PONS that I’ve always wanted, and my friend picked up handcrafted jewelry and intricate Banarasi material at the Pakistan pavilion for a dress she wants to wear to a party.
There are some pretty epic gourmet foodie finds as well. We found fragrant saffron at Iran, organic pastas, oils and pesto at surprisingly low prices in Italy, and scrumptious stuffed olives in Spain.
I took friends from out of town on one of my visits and they picked up intricately crafted hand-woven carpets in Syria (we caught them being made live) and handmade shea and cocoa butter, as well as some seriously cool handicrafts and home decor at the Africa Pavilion.
The Pasha Dance Theater is the newest addition to the entertainment on offer and made its Dubai debut at Global Village a couple of days ago.
I was one of the lucky few to witness the theatrical dance performance which is a heart-wrenching tale of love and immortality that takes us on a journey to Anatolia where a Turkish lord, Pasha, falls in love with a young maid.
The passion and intensity of the dance movements moved me immensely and the message it conveys stays with you long after the show is over.
The Park Life show which incorporates acrobatics and a wonderfully choreographed aerial act into the story was another winner.
I love how every scene of the show evokes a sense of nostalgia for the good old days and makes you want to believe in magic and its all utterly romantic as well.
So simple and yet remarkably poetic.
As an adrenaline junkie, there is no greater rush for me than finding a ride that can knock my socks off. Fantasy Island – with attractions like the Sky Coaster, bungee jumping, free fall and a whole host of others -gives you a taste of the fear, speed and excitement that you secretly wish for in the perfect amusement park ride.
The kids in my family loved the carousels and water rides, and the whole thing just transported me back in time to the local fun fairs in India which we loved as kids complete with cotton candy, a ferris wheel and a giant stuffed animal for when you can pop balloons with a gun. Cuteness overload.
Speed..Chase..Action was arguably one of the most heroic and beautifully directed stunt shows I’ve ever seen in my life. Every single one of the car chases, motorbike flips and aerial stunts were alarmingly dangerous but so well-executed by the team. The overall effect was simply breathtaking.
The theatrics and the existence of a plot that revolves around a reporter giving us live updates of a robbery and the missing black pearl diamond kept us at the edge of our seats and gave the whole thing a movie-like vibe.
The nail-biting finish gave me goosebumps. I’m hoping that the team can come up with a glorious stunt spectacle like this in the next edition of the festival as well.
From the frenzy and infectious energy of the crowds at the Atif Aslam concert to the serenity of the dancing fountains, and from the glimmer of excitement in every little eye on spotting Chota Bheem in Dubai to the scarlet in every kid’s cheeks as they hugged and squished their favorite Angry Bird, the 21st season was deeply cherished and loved by fans of all ages. This one shall be a very tough act to follow.