Your Guide to Festive Shopping in the UAE
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Your Guide to Festive Shopping in the UAE

The UAE may not be traditionally associated with Christmas festivities, but as a world-class retail destination, it certainly knows how to put on a little seasonal razzamatazz to woo the region’s shoppers.

Your Guide to Festive Shopping in the UAE

With the holiday season in full swing, there’s just a couple of weeks left to hit the stores and soak up some of the festive bonhomie. Here’s our pick of the best remaining festive shopping events and activities on offer.

Global Village 2013-14 is a unique multicultural festival that happens annually and only over the winter season, and is a great opportunity to experience customs, food and handicrafts from across the world. Set around a lake in Dubai’s Global Village, this year’s theme is a Fantasy Island funfair concept, with themed pavilions showcasing goods and cultural offerings from various countries. With some 12,000 shows to be staged throughout the festival and 27 outdoor dining outlets representing countries such as India, Iran, the UAE and Egypt alongside well-known brands and chains, there are plenty of reasons to bring the family and make a day of it. October to 1 March 2014.

Make Christmas shopping a family event at Egyptian themed Wafi Mall (housing the UAE’s first branch of Marks & Spencer). Bring the kids and make an afternoon of it with a visit to glow-in-the-dark Tee & Putt Mini Golf, or take younger ones to Kids Connection indoor play centre followed by a visit to Santa’s Grotto. Teens will love Galactica, an extreme sports and interactive facility that is part of the Mall’s Encounter Zone. Finish up with the evening sound and light show projected across the pyramids and Egyptian buildings situated in the Central Courtyard.

Running for ten days over the Christmas period, the Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah is a magical winter wonderland that offers kids the opportunity to ride a North Pole train, skate on a unique ice rink, participate in a Reindeer Rodeo and, of course, visit Santa’s Grotto. There’s even a bouncy castle too. Grown-ups can enjoy shopping at the festive stalls and join in the fun with various cooking classes hosted by award winning chefs. There are also chocolate making workshops for all ages hosted by Lindt chocolates. 3 p.m. to midnight weekdays and 1 p.m. to midnight weekends, 17 to 27 December 2013.

The Arte & Craft Soukh @ Times Square presents a great opportunity to pick up locally produced, hand crafted and unique Christmas gifts such as handmade soap, cushions, plushies, toys and jewelry. Noon to 7 p.m., Times Square Center, Dubai.

Visitors to the Dubai Mall can take a break and watch ‘Scuba Clause’ dive with sharks at the Dubai Aquarium. This event is held at various times and ends on the 25 of December. Also located at Dubai Mall, Caboodle is offering a number of Christmas themed activities for kids over the holidays including gingerbread and cookie making classes.

Meanwhile, over at the Mall of Emirates, Ductac is running a festive themed art camps for kids aged six  to eleven to give you plenty of time to hit the shops in peace. Activities include Christmas crafts, painting, drawing and more, and they run until 19 December.

Although it doesn’t start till the New Year, the Dubai Shopping Festival is a huge, month-long annual extravaganza and not to be missed if you’re in the region over the New Year period. There’s a packed schedule of events, shows, prize giveaways and, of course, bargains and promotions to entice you to spend, spend, spend. The Festival runs from 2 January to 2 February 2014.


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