The DSF means it’s party time in Dubai
BACK after a gap of two years, the newest edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) runs a massive 45 days, beginning December 20.
With an increased budget of Dh90 million ($24.5 million), the 2006-2007 event will be the biggest and the longest yet, encompassing a whole gamut of shopping, entertainment, and celebrations for the entire family under the theme: One World, One Family, One Festival.
Dubbed the ‘World of Festivals’, DSF 2006-2007 features festivals on art and culture, family entertainment, fashion, food, sports and more, besides such regular features as the event’s many raffles in a bid to cater to every shopping, leisure and entertainment need of local, regional and international visitors.
Started a decade ago in 1996, this year’s event runs the gamut of Christmas, Eid Al Adha, New Year and the winter school breaks. “In 2005, we welcomed 3.3 million visitors,” says DSF CEO Saeed Al Nabouda. Inbound tourists from the GCC comprised 22 per cent of total visitors, a 60 per cent increase for the category. The number of visitors from other Arab countries grew 81 per cent, he says.
Domestic spending during DSF 2006-2007 is expected to increase 12 per cent to reach Dh8 billion, as compared to Dh6.67 billion in 2005.
“For more than a decade DSF has become one of the most popular tourist destinations [and it has grown] bigger and stronger by the year. Our vision is to attract more than 15 million visitors to DSF by the year 2010.”
Al Nabouda also mentioned the great efforts of Dubai Government and the continuous directives from HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in developing the infrastructure of Dubai to accommodate the increasing numbers of residents and the continuous building and economic progress.
Dubai is witnessing remarkable expansion and improvements in the road network, as well as construction of new roads to fulfill the requirements of increasing traffic, taking into consideration the prominent economic position of Dubai as an international commercial hub.
“With spectacular new additions this year, we are confident our tour operators will have plenty of exciting tour options to offer their clientele and our media friends will have a surplus of interesting stories about the Festival,” says Al Nabouda.
This year’s enhanced DSF will include a World Cultures Festival, a Family Entertainment Festival, Arts and Cultural Festivals, Musical Festivals, Dubai Carnivals Festival, Dubai Fashion Festival, a Sports Festival, a Food Festival, a Records Breaking Festival, a Heritage Festival, a Shopping Malls Festival, a Raffle and Winnings Festival and many more milestone events on occasions such as the Eid Al Adha, Christmas, New Year and the winter school breaks.
On the new DSF activities this year, Al Nabouda says, “New entries are the Dubai Balloon Festival, organised by professionals from Albuquerque Fiesta in the US, kicking off with the DSF on December 20 and running until December 30 with participation of over 60 balloons. And for the first time in the Middle East, Cirque du Soleil performs its internationally acclaimed Quidam act beginning January 4 and running until after the end of the DSF.
“Bazaars of the World will showcase developments of Islamic culture through different periods in history with workshops on crafting, painting, carpet weaving, copper engraving and many more, with the recreation of a number of historic bazaars along Al Seef Street, including Khan Al Khalili, City Bazaar, Shah Bazaar and others. The Eid Al Adha celebrations, and the Fringe Festival with its European and international performers will definitely create a stir with daily performances in the evenings at various city malls,” he says.
Al Nabouda also highlighted other events like the carnivals, entertainment shows, various sports events, water games, heritage and cultural activities, conferences, exhibitions and many more.
The annual DSF is hyped up each year with mega raffle draws offering luxury prizes, the most important of which being the Daily Lexus Mega Raffle, with total prizes worth Dh25 million, the Daily Grand Nissan Raffle, with a total prizes valued at Dh4.5 million, and the Daily Gold Raffle, which offers gold and diamond prizes worth Dh4 million. These are in addition to many other raffles and offers presented by the sponsors and participating retailers of DSF.
Kicking off the festivities is the Global Village, which actually begins before the main event, on December 13. Says Al Nabouda, “The Global Village, which brings together many world cultures, embodying a vision of universal understanding is there for the visitors to savour. The vast recreational facility at Dubailand will host a range of festivals and daily raffles.”
Also back are the Ideal Arab Mother and Family awards honouring Arab mothers and families worldwide. The two awards are the largest in the Arab world.
And for those wondering about queues at Dubai Airport, Major Omar Al Shamsi, director of public relations, Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department, says his department is doing everything possible to make things easy for visitors to the festival.
“The DNRD aims to provide best services to the visitors so that they quickly get their formalities done at the airport. We have increased the arrivals counters to 44, operating 24 hours a day, in addition to six e-gates for holders of electronic cards. We have extended our working hours in the tourist and visit entry visas division until 8pm during the whole period of the festival,” he says.
by Keith J Fernandez