I’ve lived in Dubai for 6 years now – but I’ve never set foot inside Global Village. I’m not the only one either, as a quick survey amongst my friends revealed that very few had ever visited. So yesterday, after being told about Kids Fest (which is running every day at Global Village until 25th February), I thought I’d bite the bullet and head over with the boys – and after the best afternoon in a very long time, I just wish we’d done it earlier.
We arrived at 4pm, which is the time the park opens, and stayed until 7pm. This gave us plenty of time to wander around the different areas, watch several shows, enjoy lots of the kid’s activities, and eat their pick of food for their dinner – and we got to watch the sun set (which is amazing by the way – the sky is so beautiful!) If your kids are a little older (or better at staying up past their bedtime), the kid’s events continue until past 9pm. We visited on a week day and it was fairy quiet. I was worried about it being too busy and losing the boys, but it really wasn’t. It was very manageable on my own with two boys and a buggy. It’s a huge place with lots of open spaces, so it has to get very busy before you notice the crowds.
So what is Global Village? Put simply, it’s an entertainment park built around a large central courtyard, with each country from around the world (or a good proportion of them) having their own pavilion to sell traditional goods, food and drink. There are also central stages to watch shows, an area filled with fairground rides for thrill seekers, and plenty of street vendors selling food and drink. And during February, Global Village are running Kid Fest – which means you get all of the above, with the addition of regular kid’s entertainment and activities to keep them busy and happy throughout your visit.
So here goes; here are the five reasons why we loved Global Village… And now is the perfect time to head down!
1. There is lots happening for Kid Fest!
Kids would enjoy a visit to Global Village at any time, but with ‘Kids Fest’ running at the park until 25th February, it’s even more fun. All the extra activities are free of charge, including face painters, balloon benders, meet and greets with ‘Angry Birds’, a brilliant bouncy castle assault course (Stanley’s favourite thing about the afternoon), interactive dance sessions, and plenty of different shows throughout the afternoon and evening to keep them entertained.
Then you have all the kid-friendly things that are always at Global Village – dancing fountains, toddler play areas, a little train ride (Wilfred’s favourite thing about the afternoon), and the shows on the main stage (my boys were stood open-mouthed in amazement at the circus show!)
2. It’s really cheap to get in
Global Village costs 15 AED for entry (free for children under 3). I think that makes it one of the cheapest things you can do with the kids in this city – and well worth it for a few hours of fun.
3. The food is amazing
I loved the street with all the vendors – it was like we were walking through a variety of different cities throughout the world. You can opt for fast food instead if that is your thing (there is an area with eateries like KFC), but we wanted to walk down this street and take our pick from what was on offer. Boys chose German Jumbo Hot Dogs With Fries – and I chose a delicious Canadian Lobster Roll. We sat down by the canal with dhows sailing past and ate it as the sun set. It was a really lovely setting and the boys felt like they were having a treat. It’s all very cheap too – their meals came to 50 AED in total, while my lobster roll was 30 AED.
There are lots of fun things on offer for drinks and snacks too – make sure you head into Afghanistan, where a vendor will make pomegranate juice fresh as you wait. And if you like cotton candy, you must visit the China pavilion. A very skilled man will weave pastel coloured cotton candy into the most beautiful flowers and heart shapes. I had trouble trying not to snatch it out of the boy’s hands.
4. The shopping is amazing
Walk into any of the pavilions and you will find stores selling authentic items from those countries. My highlight was Africa, where I found an array of the most beautiful weaved baskets and bags. I snapped up a giant woven beach bag with leather handles for 70 AED (and I probably could’ve haggled lower, but I’m rubbish at bargaining) and a multi-coloured fruit bowl for 20 AED. I need to go back soon, as I have my eye on all the baskets for my new home (literally a fraction of the price I’d find them elsewhere in Dubai). I am also tempted by the pots of pure Shea Butter that a lady rubbed into my hand (I walked away but regretted it later).
5. Kids get a chance to see the world (without the airfare!)
But I think one of my favourite things about Global Village is the fact you have all these different cultures mixing together and having fun – and the kids can discover about new countries too. Stanley and I had lots of conversations about the different countries we were visiting, their National Dress (as there are plenty of people in national dress milling about the pavilions offering photo opportunities), what kind of food the people ate, the music they listened to, and even their climates (he asked why Afghanistan sold fur coats, for example, which led up to conversations about how cold it can get).
Obviously nothing can beat jumping on a plane and showing your children the world – but failing that, I really recommend heading to Global Village. We will definitely be heading back soon!
Kids Fest runs until February 25th. Entry Tickets to Global Village include access to the Kids Fest activities. Global Village is open from 4pm-12am Saturday-Wednesday and 4pm-1am Thursday-Friday and on Public Holidays until the 8th of April 2017. Mondays are family days at Global Village. Visit http://globalvillage.ae/en/
In collaboration with Global Village