The charity event Small World features cuisines from around the globe and raises money for the international fight against child slavery.
It's a world of food at the Small World charity event
Of the many reasons to celebrate life in the UAE, perhaps one of the most significant is the sheer ethnic diversity that residents are exposed to on a daily basis: step into a park and you're likely to hear a mix of different languages; wander down the street feeling a little peckish and you could sample food from a different country, every day of the week.
Now in its second year, Small World is a charity event that aims to bring together and celebrate this diversity of expatriate communities, while raising money for international children's charities. All the money raised at this year's event, which will be held at the Emirates Palace tomorrow at 6pm, will go towards the international fight to stop child slavery, with proceeds divided between the 19 charities chosen by the different participating communities.
Based on attendance at last year's event, the organisers are expecting some 2,000 people to visit Small World 2012 and say that they will be treated to what is best described as a riot of sights, sounds and tastes. Each community has been invited to decorate their booth in a manner that celebrates their culture and will be serving traditional food. Later on in the evening, there will be a stage performance with music and dances from each of the participating countries. After that, DJ Said Mrad will lead the celebrations into the night.
Amanda Tinnin is a US-born English teacher at ALHOSN University and is one of the team leaders for the US contribution to Small World. She tells me that at the US booth, visitors will be invited to sample various finger foods from both the south and north-west, in an attempt to represent the fusion of cultures in the country. Students from ALHOSN will be on hand to entertain visitors with various bits of American trivia and guests might even spot a Disney character or two. With regards to the performance element of Small World, Tinnin says that, rather ambitiously, she wanted to "represent the two different worlds of American music: spirituals and hip-hop; with spirituals representing the desire of a slave to be free and hip-hop an expression of daily struggles".
Fairuz Issa took part in last year's event as part of the Colombian contribution and says that he was thrilled to be asked to join in again this year. "We see it as a chance to do our little part and make a contribution to the different foundations out there that work incessantly to ensure a better future to our children." The Colombian stand will be colourfully decorated with flowers, fruit arrangements, handicrafts and pictures of Colombian scenery, while participants will be wearing traditional dress, offering sweets and snacks made from fruit and corn and serving coffee from the Colombian hills, which Issa promises is "the best in the world".
At the Jordanian stand, meanwhile, amid the posters and banners, visitors will have the chance to sample various Dead Sea skin products and admire the coloured sand bottles made by Bedouin tribes in Wadi Rum while feasting on falafel, baked spinach, thyme and cheese pastries and hareesa, a sweet made from semolina and yogurt.
Clara Ruth Figueroa, a UAE resident who was born in Mexico City, says that events such as these play an important role in the life of an expat. "Living abroad has inspired me to demonstrate the immense love and admiration I have for my fascinating culture, family tradition and ancient history. My philosophy is that by uniting the Mexican community, we are inculcating to our children the roots and values that were handed down proudly by our grandparents."
Figueroa promises that those who drop by this particular booth will be "transported to a folkloric corner in Mexico, full of flavour and colour with the spirit of the Mexican culinary tradition, in a fiesta ambience".
"You will enjoy chicken tacos, quesadillas, gorditas, burritos, nachos, pico de gallo salsa and churros; all handmade, fresh ingredients and authentic Mexican recipes," she says.
• Tickets for Small World 2012, priced at Dh250, can be purchased from Virgin Megastores, TimeOut Abu Dhabi and TimeOut Dubai box offices or by calling Plush Events on 02 658 3387. Visit www.smallworlduae.com. Doors open at 6pm
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