It is not the glittering streets, the colossal shopping malls, or the majestic towers that make Dubai. The spirit of the city lies in its diversity and its people.
Since its inception 19 years ago the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) continues to attract people to its array of shopping and entertainment activities.The glittering opening at Al Seef Street on Thursday drew regular fans and the spirit of the season was palpable.
The lineup of performers was truly international. Some of the performers included Pele Pele dance group from Swaziland, the Mexico Tierra Mestiza troupe, giant Russian Metuskha dolls, stilt walkers, flamenco dancers, flame throwers, uni-cyclists, clowns, drum beaters, Sudanese performers, dancers in ancient Venetian costumes, traditional Argentinean dancers, and traditional Irish dancers. Those wanting to catch a glimpse of the carnival can head to Al Seef Street, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard, Jumeirah Street, Al Riqqa Street and Global Village. The long-awaited opening ended the long wait for residents, families and tourists eager to participate in the region’s biggest shopping event.
Indian national and resident of Dubai Rakesh Gaekwad said: “I have been living in Dubai for the last 20 years and the DSF is something my family and I attend every year. But since its inception, the celebration has definitely taken a 360 degree turn. It is so different from what it once used to be. It’s become better, livelier, and way more international.
Another Indian national and tourist, Prakash Jain said: “The DSF happened to coincide with my New Year celebrations. This is my first Shopping Festival and I am looking forward to it.” Another tourist Rana Sawhney said: “This is our first visit to Dubai during the shopping festival and I am looking forward to being a part of the fanfare.”
A British tourist Holly Andrews, who was attending the carnival with her husband and two children, said: “It’s not region-specific. What is best about what I am seeing right now, is that it is truly global. I mean look at all these performers; they are from all over the world.” With this year’s theme, “Shop At Your Best”, DSF 2014 kicks off with a promise to offer visitors from around the world, a one-of-kind opportunity to savor a wide selection of discounts, promotions and raffles.
Apart from the celebrations at Al Seef Street, prizes worth half-a-million dirhams are given away on the opening day. The celebrations began at The Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif City Centre and Dubai Festival City. Shoppers had the opportunity to win the prizes on the opening day in line with the festival theme ‘Shop at Your Best’ at the DSF Lucky Shopper hosted by Sama Dubai TV at various shopping malls alongside competitions by local radio stations. “I am a big fan of the DSF but I did not expect to win. I wait for this special event every year as it offers a lot of exciting events that I can enjoy over the month. I am used to the DSF being unique each year and I am sure it will once again strengthen Dubai’s reputation as an incredible city full of pleasant surprises for both residents and visitors,” said Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi.
Zaher Al Muhairi, another shopper, said: “Not only Dubai, but other parts of the UAE also enjoy all the celebrations that DSF offers. DSF has something for everyone, irrespective of which part of the world they’re from – that’s why families from all over the world wait for this special event each year.”