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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Global Village may feel gaudy but it’s a thoroughly pleasing experience

Here are some of the highlights of my first trip of the season

Global Village, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Global Village, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Wednesday evening seems like an opportune time to go and check out this year’s edition of Global Village in Dubai.

This is a massive fairground hosting different countries in makeshift buildings, where vendors sell local goods and foods. Rides and live performances complete the package. Speaking from experience, weekends bring throngs of people to the attraction, which is near Dubailand, off Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road.

To avoid large crowds, complete with rowdy children and stressed nannies running over the backs of your feet with the pushchairs they are pushing, I’ve found that it is best to visit the site on a weekday, if possible, or right at opening time at 4pm.

As I enter one of the many parking lots at around 7pm on Wednesday, I quickly realise that it’s far from a quiet time at Global Village. Even though it’s a weekday, the first, close ring of parking spaces are all filled, and I have to park in the outer ring, an eight-minute walk from the entrance. After queuing for another five minutes to buy my Dh15 entry ticket, I find that my initial excitement about the trip has turned sour. I pass through the gaudy gates and immediately seek out a food stall selling water bottles and also buy myself a tub of popcorn.

Four hours later, as I return to my car, it is with a feeling of fulfilment. I am an avid shopper after all and Global Village never fails to disappoint.

Here are some of the highlights of my first trip of the season:

Rajasthani dancers perform traditional sequences at the centre of the India pavilion, which is full of vendors selling shawls, textiles and traditional jewellery. Having lost the will to ever wear high heels to a South Asian wedding again, I make my way towards the stores selling khussas, or traditional flat, Indian slippers, decorated with embroidery and crystal embellishments. I try them on in my size and although they’re not exceptionally comfortable, I’m told that the leather will mould to my feet over time. I’m sold, and buy a gold and ivory design topped with pearls.

The Yemen pavilion is home to numerous home decor stalls, selling everything from bedsheets to tea sets. I spend some time admiring tea-set designs but I’m tempted by the vendor selling dried flowers and rose buds, intended to garnish or decorate cups of tea. I take some quick photos of the tea sets, planning to come back later, and buy a bag of the rosebuds.

In Thailand, I’m met with countless clothing stalls, many of which are selling floral-patterned, tiered dresses in maxi and midi lengths. I pick an emerald-green toned design accented with dainty white lace. While there, I refuel with a quick dinner and eat a delicious chicken Pad Thai dish.

In China, I spot some pretty silk pyjama sets – one is printed with daisies and another with cute cacti and alpaca images. I buy one of each, along with some cheap pearl-adorned headbands.

In Turkey, I feel the need to eat yet again and order a plastic cup of ­pomegranate seeds and feed myself spoonfuls as I browse the range of jewellery. Hamsa hand charms are beaded on to neon friendship bracelets and evil eye pendants are a dime a dozen. Customers can even buy personalised gold-plated necklaces with their names in Arabic calligraphy. While a lot of the jewellery here catches my eye, I’m aware that my wallet is nearly empty and decide to call it a night.

There are many countries I didn’t even make it to – but I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

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