x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Festive lights

It has 360,000 lights, 8,000 ornaments and towers 29 metres over shoppers.

Shoppers play in front of the 29-metre tall Christmas tree at Dubai Mall.
Shoppers play in front of the 29-metre tall Christmas tree at Dubai Mall.

ABU DHABI // It has 360,000 lights, 8,000 ornaments and towers 29 metres over shoppers. Staff at Dubai Mall also hope their huge Christmas tree will encourage donations to the Giving Tree campaign to buy a bus for the Dubai Center for Special Needs. "We need to raise money to get a new bus because transport is a major issue for the school, and it's even more critical when dealing with special needs students," said Razanne Saati, a spokeswoman for the centre. The centre's bus is "really old, so we pay a lot of maintenance". All donations from boxes placed around the tree will go towards the Dh185,000 (US$50,368) estimated cost of a new bus.

Some of the centre's 133 children helped design rubber bracelets and draw the greeting cards that are also part of the campaign. Raising money this year has been especially challenging, because of the effects of the global financial crisis. "Donors have been unable to continue because of the economic crisis situation, and this is affecting us," Ms Saati said. "We're non-profit and we need to have some savings to pay staff and provide the facilities."

Yousif al Ali, the mall's general manager, hoped donations would pour in during the peak season. "Visitor turnout and retail sales during the UAE National Day and Eid holidays were strong, and we expect the trend to further strengthen with the New Year and Dubai Shopping Festival," he said. Donations to the centre are being accepted until Jan 7, when the tree will be taken down. Visit www.dcsneeds.ae to purchase the children's greeting cards.

mkwong@thenational.ae