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Around the World ……in 8 hours

Global Village at the Dubai Shopping Festival 2008.

The Global Village is a unique experiment that has paid dividends over the years. Not only has it added colour and variety to the pace of Dubai Shopping Festival celebrations --one of the world’s largest shopping fiestas-- but also held its own as a cultural entertainment center.

Jelling in with Dubai’s reputation as a melting point of different cultures, the Global Village is where different countries come together to showcase their myriad cultures. Today, this major crowd-puller has been transformed into a unique international destination for tourism, entertainment, leisure and culture.

As a world-class tourism destination, the Global Village brings together diverse customs and cultures covering a broad spectrum of activities including music, dances, arts and handicrafts, theatre, costumes and cuisine of different countries.

Located in Dubailand on the Emirates Road, this destination can be easily accessed from all corners of the UAE through an effective road network. In addition to hosting the colourful activities that are organised by countries from the different continents of the world, the Global Village also offers a range of top quality facilities and services including provision of restaurants, shuttle transport services and a huge parking area that can accommodate thousands of vehicles.

This year the Global Village runs from December 13 to March 1. Abdul Redha Ali Bin Redha In an exclusive one-to-one, Mr. Abdul Redha Ali Bin Redha, CEO of Global Village talks to Debasree S, Editor

Q. Global Village is a signature event of Dubai Shopping Festival. How do you reinvent yourself every year to sustain interest and get in more traders and retailers.?
A. We work with the Dubai Shopping Festival Office to conduct worldwide promotions in order to bring in retailers and tourists from the world over. We have the same aim, to bring in larger number of tourists into Dubai during the DSF. However, we also operate as a separate entity and introduce new features, cultural shows, entertainment areas, newer pavilions etc

Q. Would you agree that the Global Village is the top attraction of DSF? Or is it only one among the many?
A. We are the biggest draw in DSF every year and this year too, we promise to be the biggest crowd-puller. The concept of a Global Village where you will taste and sample the flavours of the world is quite unique. I don’t think any other country has made an experiment to bring the world’s cultures together in the way that we have during the DSF. We also start off much earlier and close down after DSF so we start pulling in the crowds even before the DSF started and carry on till much later.

Q. How many visitors did you have last year and what is the footfall projection for this year?
A. Last year we had 4 million visitors. This year we are looking at half a million more ie. 4.5 million.

Q. Which are the new pavilions and attractions? Anything new that is unique to Global Village 2008?
A. There are a host of new features. There is almost a 90 per cent change in the masterplan of the Global Village in the yesteryears and what it is this year. Like the Canal Walk at the centre of the different pavilions, the internationally reputed Al Freej Shows, the recreation of Old Town Arabia and the House of Talents. The Aqua Fantasia Show has also proved to be one of the biggest attractions.

Q. What are the new buses and routes to the Global Village and special parking facilities?
A. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has introduced special buses ferrying visitors from other emirates as well as from strategic locations in Dubai. Also, more than 5,500 additional parking spaces that have been allotted to different categories of visitors this year. A parking lot has also come up near the Arabian ranches.

Q. Dubailand is being projected as Dubai’s ultimate leisure and entertainment project. Will Global Village too become a permanent feature instead of the 82-day carnival that it is now?
A. Plans are afoot, but the details will be divulged only later this year.

Q. What is your marketing strategy, when you are out to woo traders from all over the world. Where does the process start and who are the people involved?
A. Although the world is our canvas, we are trying to strengthen our local base by working with members of the Shaikh Rashid Establishment for Young Business Entrepreneurs

Q. There are complaints that the Global Village is full of fake Chinese products that are available at all pavilions right from Canada to Lebanon? has learnt that empty stalls at different pavilions are being taken up by local traders to push in counterfeit products? Don’t you think this is spoiling the name of the Global Village.
A. No that is not true. There is a regular quality check over the goods available at the Global Village. There are inspectors who carry out surprise inspections to ensure that only the best are put up for sale.

Q. Thousands of people visit Global Village everyday. If there is a fire or a short circuit what emergency rescue plans do you have?
A. When the masterplan is drawn up, it is sent for approval to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and also the Dubai Department of Civil Defense. All the fire exits, fire exhaust arrangements are approved of. In case of an emergency there are two offices of Civil Defense and to from two medical clinics where doctors and nurses are available within the Global Village. Dubai Police and the Department of Economic Development also chip in with their surveillance.

Q. Do you have buggies or carts for the elderly and the disabled who are unable to cover all the distance on foot.
A. We have shopping trolleys and pushable carts for children. We don’t have buggies this year, Next year we might make arrangements for the same.

Q. Don’t you think entry to the Golbal Village should be made free?
A. Setting up a structure of this magnitude needs a lot of resources. There are 8,500 employees who are working every day to maintain the global village. We have to recover the costs of maintenance. Dhs. 5 per ticket, is not a very big amount to pay for an evening of wholesome entertainment.

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