DSF celebrates 10 years

Abras lit up at Dubai Creek bearing the DSF logo. Below: Amitabh Bachchan

JANUARY 12 kicks off the month-long madness that has done so much to put Dubai (and the Middle East) on the world’s tourism map – the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) 2005, in its tenth edition this year.

Typically, the festival is bigger than before: 200 events, 10 festival ‘destinations’, 4,000 volunteers and Dh100 million in prizes under its now regular message of One World, One Family, One Festival.
“The festival has become the ultimate shopping, winning and entertaining event. Its phenomenal success directly complements Dubai’s success in economic development, tourism, trade and media and has set an example regionally and internationally,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Department of Civil Aviation, chairman of the Emirates Group and chairman of DSF’s Supreme Committee.
While the festival was conceived purely to revitalise the city’s retail trade, it has developed into a comprehensive tourism product that brought 31 million visitors to the emirate last year and notched up Dh5.8 billion in total spending. Among the largest beneficiaries has been the tourism sector. The travel trade sells the festival worldwide and operates at peak levels during the event and hotels report 100 per cent occupancy from year one.
Fittingly, too, applications for retail participation – in the form of festival-tagged sales and promotions – are coming thick and fast. Mohammed Al Dhuail, DSF business registration coordinator said, “Weare expecting a higher response from the retail trade as compared to last year’s 85 per cent. With innovative shopping promotions and fantastic incentives and prizes, the DSF shopping experience aims to offer customers genuine opportunities.”
One of these is the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group promotion perpetuating the emirate’s image as the city of gold. In a campaign endorsed by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, the group is marketing a Dh250 tenth anniversary commemorative 22-carat gold coin and giving away a phenomenal 120 kilos of gold, five kilos each week and a single, 100-kilo jackpot. Cash, cars and apartments are among the other prizes being given away by companies across the board, including petrol stations ENOC and EPPCO, Mashreqbank and Lexus.
Among the festival’s 10 destinations is a new, Dh136-million Global Village that will run until March 31 at its new location, Dubailand on Emirates Road. The new facility hosts more than 45 pavilions, a food court with 50-plus restaurants, 75 retail kiosks, an amphitheatre, six entrances and exits and a 15,000-capacity car park. Other destinations are the heritage and cultural Al Shindagah Zone,  the wholesale-price Night Souq, the Desert Camp, the Dubai Carnivals, the raffle area with prizes galore, and the three main street venues of Al Seef, Al Riqqa and Al Muraqabbat with their street performances, funfairs and more.
Part of the entertainment mix is theatre (there’s even an Indian version of The Graduate), dance, art (the multi-national Emaar Art Symposium), the carpet and tea oases and music concerts such as Layali Dubai and the city’s third jazz festival.
In keeping with the family marketing, there’s a lot on offer for children such as fireworks, snake exhibits, balloon rides, cable cars, kite contests and the annual attempt at the Guinness Book of World Records with the biggest Same Name Gathering and the Largest Pizza Festival.
On the sports front, there’s different varieties of football, volleyball, the One Thousand Dunes Rally, extreme sport, dhow racing, motor cross, go-karting, and more.
Finally, for those seeking to combine business with pleasure, there are nearly a dozen conferences and exhibitions: TradeCom 2005, Arab Health, Sign & Graphic Imaging Middle East, the Wellbeing Show, Intersec, Gulf Youth, Postage Stamps of Dubai, Water, Energy, Technology & Environment (WETEX), Dubai International Property & Investment.