x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Sample world's foods, and cultures, at Global Village

Ask Ali: Making the most of a trip to Global Village in Dubai, and a short history of kohl.

Dear Ali: My friends keep telling me to go to Global Village when I visit Dubai. Do you think it's a good idea? CJ, Italy

Buon giorno, CJ: Global Village has long been a favourite place for kids, families, shopaholics and foodies alike. It is the one place in Dubai, during the winter, that truly captures the liveliness of different cultures coming together, hence its name. The theme park opens every year in November and runs until the end of February, so hurry before it's too late.

The vast outdoor area features pavilions from many countries full of local merchandise including handmade jewellery, accessories, textiles, home furnishings, rugs, carpets and most importantly their local food. Walking through these pavilions is such a pleasure, with women ruthlessly bargaining with the merchants and the smell of street food wafting through the stalls enticing you to sample many of the ethnic cuisines. I urge you to try some of our local dishes. The sight of kids begging their parents to go on one last ride before leaving the funfair section is nostalgic for me and never fails to take me back to my childhood days.

Global Village is not just a place to shop and eat, however. You can sample some of the cultural entertainment such as street dancers and acrobatic shows. If you're feeling spontaneous, there is a stage open to amateurs and emerging artists just for kicks. Who knows - it might be the day you get "discovered".

For those of you who complain about not being able to interact with Emiratis, this is your perfect chance. There are pavilions from the GCC countries clustered beside each other, and you will definitely find an influx of locals in these areas haggling for the best oud, spices, sheilas and abayas.

Global Village is a secure and organised place. There are information kiosks dotted all over the place, and ATMs and banks are available in case you're strapped for cash - credit cards are still not widely accepted here.

The area is accessible and child friendly with wheelchairs and strollers available on request at the gates. The site is equipped with a medical clinic for emergencies along with the Dubai Police to help ensure safety for all.

If you want to catch specific shows, go to www.globalvillage.ae to download daily entertainment schedules, but the best time to go is after sunset when the park really comes to life. Avoid going on Mondays if you are a bachelor as the park is dedicated to families only that day.


Dear Ali: Why is kohl used by many Arabs around their eyes, and what is its significance? MP, Germany

Dear MP: Back in the day, kohl was used for two reasons: as a type of make-up and as a medicine for eye-related diseases. Kohl was not considered a cosmetic trend, but more of a tradition and represented an authentic way for women to look pretty.

Kohl is known as athmad and is applied as a liner on the inner edges of the lids. The eyes are moist, sensitive organs and are vulnerable to harsh, windy and sandy weather. Protecting the edges with a layer of athmad acts as a moisturiser.

Kohl is also used on newborn babies to guard them from hasad (the evil eye). It is highly valued by women in the UAE and you will often see them wearing kohl around their eyes. Black kohled eyes have inspired many poets to write passionate and romantic poems about beautiful women.


Language lesson

Arabic: Mak'hala

English: Kohl container

Kohl is traditionally stored in a special bottle with a lid that doubles as a tool to apply it around the eyes. The applicator has a long, thin shaft that helps the kohl to stick to it. "Ateeni al mak'hala" means "Give me the kohl container".