Dubai: For 17 years the Global Village has not failed to surprise the millions of visitors it has attracted. A new ride here, a new trinket there, a new dish on the stalls or a new art on the turf, seldom has someone left this amazing family cultural, entertainment and shopping hub disappointed.
They say it’s where the world comes together, providing something for everyone, but this year there’s more as XPRESS found out in a tour over three days of the 17.2 million square foot park dotted with 30 pavilions from 40 countries. It’s likely you haven’t seen or heard of them before. Even if you have, it’s well worth a second visit just for these gems of Global Village 2013. We just hope you can cover it all in one day.
Venetian Masks from Italy
The Venetian masks at the Italian pavilion will grab your eyeballs at first look. Such is the attraction of these exquisite pieces. Not overtly expensive, Dh150 to Dh1,080, they come in all forms of human expressions. “Hand-made and hand-painted, these are waterproof papier-mâché and are great for a large scale masquerade party if you are planning one,” jokes exhibitor Carlo Matrosimone from Rome. You could also buy it just for decoration as well.
Vintage Dresses from England
Curious how you would look in the garb of King Henry VII from 15th century Britannia or Queen Victoria of 19th century England, you should stop by at the combined pavilions of France, the UK and Germany. History Land studios from London there will transform you into centuries of history within minutes. You could choose between Tudor, Victorian or the Gangster era (above) from the early 20th century for a complete dress-up in the particular attire and a photograph ‘frozen in time’. It all comes at a fair price: from Dh150 for a ‘small’ 6x4 inch frame for up to three people to Dh350 for ‘medium’ 10x8 inch frame for seven to 10 people.
Saffron power and honey
Arguably the greatest draw every year at the Global Village is its collection of spices from many countries. But it’s the Spanish saffron (Azafran) that takes centre stage. Dubbed the best in the world, it come in two varieties – La Rosera for Dh60 per gram (that’s Dh60,000 a kilo) and a lower quality of Belefran for Dh30 per gram. Then there’s honey – with the best coming from both the mountains and the lowlands of Yemen. Some treat cough, some diabetes and if the labels are to believed some also cure a lack of libido! It ranges from Dh150 to Dh250 per kg.
It hasn’t made an appearance in Dubai before - 3D art on the floor that appears to be screaming out loud. Three friends from Budapest, Hungary are at work creating a boat which people can appear to ride on calm waters. They have created more drama with their paint brushes before and there’s more to come.
Giant African masks from Kenya
You won’t see a mask bigger than these. Seller Jacqueline Rumini from Kenya calls them ‘Makonde’, a name for angry young people with angry expressions. Weighing about a solid 5kg each, one’s long (46cm x 16cm) and one’s wide (36cm x 20cm). You pay Dh 1,300 for the first one and Dh200 more for the other.
Giant Crescent from Turkey
It’s not quite clear if it was unearthed from an Ottoman ruin, but it looks every bit as if it belongs to the old city of Constantinople. A giant crescent, this will adorn your living room nicely for a mere Dh3,800. Made of copper, the shopkeeper claims it glitters like gold under bright yellow lights though.
Pastas from Italy
Tired of having the same old fettuccini and spaghetti that tastes like whole wheat and flours of the usual cereals and grains? It’s time then for something new. ‘Just Italian Food’ in the Italy pavilion is selling a Candeloni that’s 50cm long and a Tonnarelli that’s long, curly and made of durum wheat semolina and guess what else? Pure squid ink. From Dh15 to Dh35, all pastas here come from the south Italian city of Foggia, available in all shapes, sizes and weights.
The ancient Romans had a thing for aqueducts and fountains – they believed water spreads cheer and life. Morelli’s from Italy who specialise in high-end bathware are selling three grey fountains fitted with a brass tap and a perfect antiquated look. Dh1,800 is what you pay for the tallest of them all. It weighs between 25 and 30kg a piece.
Rocking chair from Asia
This one’s also in the Italian pavilion but the only shop selling furniture there has more connections with Asia. Amongst several pieces of wood ware, the one that catches your eye is a rocking chair made of teak from India, Malaysia and Indonesia. The magnificent throne commands a price of Dh5,500, by far the most expensive single item in the Global Village. The shopkeeper was willing to sell it for Dh3,960 – a discount of 28 per cent.
Sand rose from Tunisia
They call it sand rose in Tunisia but it’s also known as Desert rose (remember the 1999 song of the same name by Sting and Algerian singer Cheb Mami?). All are colloquial versions of what are amazingly intricate rose-like patterns of natural sand crystals of gypsum or baryte. “You get these only in Tunisian sahara where we sometimes dig as deep as 12 feet to get them,” says the man selling the bundle of rocks.
Sold for as low as Dh1 and going up to Dh10,000, they are decorative pieces and retain the perfumes sprayed on them for a lifetime.