There’s always been more to Abu Dhabi’s biggest park than playgrounds and picnic areas – Khalifa Park boasts its own train, library, aquarium, maritime museum and historical theme ride. And now, it is also playing host to Six Continents, Abu Dhabi’s own version of Global Village. And the much-anticipated shopping pavilions have been slowly filling up for the past month, showcasing products from different countries around the world. Six Continents was initially scheduled to run until the end of March, but it will now stay open until at least April 12 – and, weather permitting, could stay open throughout May.
Family day out
The event is being run by Pioneer Partners International, an independent entertainment and events company based in Abu Dhabi and founded and owned by Mohammed Adnan, who also owns a sweet shop, Clown Candy, in Dalma Mall. He has lived in Abu Dhabi for 20 years and Six Continents is his brainchild.
“Abu Dhabi is a beautiful city, but it’s been lacking in outdoor family entertainment,” says Adnan. “People don’t just want to go to malls. We are holding this event in a park so people can also have a picnic or a barbecue while they’re here. We’ve tried to incorporate something for everyone in the family. There also are entertainment shows, skill-testing games and amazing rides, some of which have come all the way from the UK. Soon we will start opening in the mornings, too, for school excursions.”
Isabel Cindric visited the attraction for the first time on Saturday evening with her children Tomi, 4, and Lucija, 1. “I think the Dh10 entrance fee is very good value for money,” says Cindric. “Once you’ve paid, the park’s permanent attractions are all free. Tomi really enjoyed the free race karts. Next time I will come later in the evening and have dinner here, too, so the kids can see the shows.
Shop till you drop
Currently open for business are shopping pavilions from China, Syria, UAE, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey. The organisers are hopeful that India and Africa will be open by the end of next week, and Yemen and Lebanon soon after.
In the UAE pavilion, vendors sell geemat (fried dumplings with date syrup), handicrafts made by local women, perfumes and frankincense. In the Chinese pavilion, as well as battery-operated plastic toys, you can also buy an assortment of phone cases and trendy leggings.
The Syrian pavilion, which is located next to the target shooting area, has a tasty range of flavoured labneh, zaatar and olives, which you can try before you buy.
Pakistan has a great range of leather coats to keep you warm on these winter nights, and several luxurious fox-fur coats, too.
A world in itself
Now almost fully operational, the site has become a popular haunt. On Friday of last weekend, organisers say, more than 20,000 people queued up at the ticket booths. On weekdays the park is quieter but fills up later in the evening, as the nightly shows start when the sun goes down. There are also plenty of funfair amusements to keep thrill-seekers occupied, with 23 adult and 12 smaller rides, including a 4-D/3-D motion theatre, a log flume and bumper cars. There’s also a separate area for 2- to 8-year-olds, a carousel and a Simpsons-inspired bouncy castle and slide. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Garfield, Hello Kitty and other popular characters are on hand to greet visitors as they enter the park and to perform a dance with the children on stage.
A construction-themed play area is also due to open, offering kids the chance to wear contractors’ uniforms and pretend to be real-life excavators. A circus will start on February 10, with nightly shows on stage.
• Six Continents at Khalifa Park is open daily, from 4pm to 11pm on weekdays and from 3pm to midnight on weekends