Going Global: Part 2

Keep an eye out too for the Nepal pavilion where vendors Amit and Amar sell an arsenal of irresistible goods. The duo who are prone to flirting with their customers, live, breathe and sleep their business…Amar told us that he sees selling Nepalese goods at Global Village partly as a way of showcasing his country’s heritage and handicrafts, but the bottom line is that he – like all the other vendors – is here to do business and professionally, Global Village is the best place to be. It’s also an exciting one, claims Amar, as you’re selling to such a varied crowd. Products such as thangka (Tibetan ritual paintings depicting Buddha’s life story) and attractive jewelry made of silver and semi-precious stones are just darling; it’s easy to become hysterical over them and their low prices. You can also pick up a singing bowl – made from an alloy of metals – which produces a continuous harmonic ringing when rubbed around the rim with a wooden pestle. Held near the navel, the singing bowl is said to resonate with the body and aid meditation.

Of course being in the Middle East, you really can’t leave without checking out the Arabian pavilions – Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman et al are all present and correct. Here you can pick up souvenir-sized slices of Arabia such as sheesha pipes, juicy dates and Middle Eastern music to chill out to or practice belly dancing to back home. Other items worth snapping up include a dishdasha – the national dress of many Islamic countries (and a solution to the age-old problem of what to wear at the next fancy dress party!) and oud. Westerners may prefer fragrances by Calvin Klein and co but Arabs still favor the headier scent of oud – which was used to mask the smell of perspiration in life before air conditioning – and are sold in jewel-encrusted bottles. Arabian Oud is considered an aphrodisiac so if you can’t rekindle a romance after applying some oud, it’s over…

Perambulating around the pavilions can take its toll on your legs – but a better alternative to going back to your hotel to put your feet up, is to take yourself to the Thailand pavilion (there’s no need to travel to Thailand to find your inner chi) where there are outlets available for relieving any aches. They tend to be no-frills joints and a far cry from the sumptuous spas attached to Dubai’s five-star hotels (at Dhs100 for an hour-long massage, what do you expect?) – but the massages administered here are highly effective in kneading your body back to functionality.

Chances are you’re also bound to have worked up an appetite after trawling around the pavilions. Walking into the restaurant region is a bit like walking into an episode of Friends; everybody looks happy to be there. Thanks to the wonderfully cheap prices, you owe it to yourself to dismiss any notion of a post-Christmas diet and travel your tastebuds. To wet the appetite, you could start off with dim sum (delicious Chinese dumplings stuffed with meat), before moving onto a main of rice and dhal (the Subcontinent is united in its love for lentils and rice) or inihaw (grilled fish or meat from the meat mad Philippines). For a sugar hit, try wickedly rich sweets like Gulab Jamon (deep fried balls of dough soaked in rose flavored syrup from India) or the tasty Thai dish of mango and sticky rice. Wash your global gastronomic feast down with a slosh of freshly squeezed juice or a strong cup of Turkish coffee.

Between refreshment breaks and bouts of buying, there’s a myriad of entertainment options to keep you inside Global Village’s gates well into the wee small hours… the village brings together music shows, cultural exhibitions and demonstrations and dancers; on our last visit the place was packed, the music was blaring and everyone was having a good time watching Sri Lankan dancers strut their stuff. Another evening, you might catch Chinese opera or whirling dervishes, while every day there’s a dazzling fireworks display. Meanwhile, ankle biters will be kept occupied, entertained and amused by the Fun Fair area – home to every kind of rollercoaster and ride under the sun plus games galore…

Yes, there’s little not to like about Global Village; the only downside is that whatever you take home, won’t be enough – this really is one of the best places in Dubai to splosh your dosh under the stars. But even if you’re not buying, this part fun fair, part world souk is a compelling place to visit representing as it does a great way to embrace different cultures and ways of life from around the world. If you haven’t done so already, do think about visiting…

Global Village runs until 28 February 2011. For more information, visit www.globalvillage.ae

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