ANURAG MALLICK gives a preview of Dubai Shopping Festival 2016, the 21st edition of the world’s longest running festival
As a city that believes in the best, biggest and tallest, Dubai kickstarts the new year with DSF 2016, the 21st edition of the world’s longest-running festival. The Dubai Shopping Festival or simply DSF (1 Jan–1 Feb) is back with a line-up of over 150 events in a month-long celebration and millions of dirhams in prizes.
Beginning with a grand DSF Global Village World Party heralded by fireworks, mega discounts and raffle promotions, the shopping extravaganza is a big draw for tourists from across the globe and the Arab world. For the first time, DSF is running weekly themes dedicated to key retail categories – beauty, jewellery, fashion and perfumes.
Week 1 (1-7 Jan) is dedicated to ‘Beauty’, with a Fashion Catwalk inside The Dubai Mall. Spread over 13 million sq ft (that’s 50 football fields), it is the world’s largest mall and the most visited shopping and leisure destination. A special Beauty District has been created with new product launches, makeup tutorials, beauty pageants and a 360o Glam Cam where shoppers get a 360o view of their makeover!
Besides big deals, catch local attractions like The Dubai Mall Ice Rink and The Waterfall – an art installation spanning four floors with dramatic fiberglass sculptures of divers plummeting down the cascade. The fascinating Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo houses nearly 33,000 marine creatures behind the world’s largest acrylic panel. Walk through the tunnel as sharks and rays glide over you.
The Dubai Mall is the perfect venue for families with edutainment zone KidZania, indoor theme park SEGA Republic, the world’s largest sweet shop Candylicious, Hamley’s toy store from London, Bloomingdale’s from New York and Galeries Lafayette, their only store outside Paris. Don’t miss the daily show at Dubai Fountain every half hour between 6 and 11pm just outside the mall.
The second week (8-14 Jan) celebrates ‘Gold and Jewellery’ with unbelievable offers from international luxury brands. Dubai Gold & Jewelry Group is giving away 5kg gold and daily prizes with “100 Winners in 32 Days.” Over four weeks, four lucky winners can win 200 grams at each weekly draw and the final winner will win a kilo of gold on the last day of DSF! The more you shop at the select community malls, the higher your chances of winning.
Damas is presenting a unique pop-up display on diamond mining besides showcasing antique collections. Three locations in the Al Fahidi Historical District on either side of the Dubai Creek (Bur Dubai and Deira) will be decked up. After a peek into the Dubai Museum, take a ride across the creek in an abra (traditional ferry) for only a dirham. At Gold Souk, marvel at the heaviest ring in the world pop at the Kanz store and browse through the Spice Souk overflowing with herbs and spices from across the world. This year’s highlight is Creek Chic, a vintage market featuring vintage fashion, furniture and art.
Week 3 (15 – 25 Jan) highlights ‘Apparel & Fashion’ with a special Fashion Central created in the Mall of the Emirates introducing ‘New to Dubai’ fashion brands and collections. The key attraction is Fashiontainment, a fusion of fashion shows and music performances. Besides in-store activations, catch Fashion Express, a mash-up of a flashmob and a pop-up at Dubai Festival City Mall (15-16 Jan) and Ibn Battuta Mall (22- 23 Jan).
Fashion On Ice (17 Jan) is a dazzling skating fashion show at The Dubai Mall Ice Rink featuring professional figure skaters modelling avant-garde collections from Galleries Lafayette. Watch out for live snowfall and video projections! As part of Street Runways, Dubai’s famous landmarks will serve as a dramatic backdrop for showcasing high-street fashion at Al Fahidi District (18 Jan), Burj Plaza (23 Jan) and Meena Bazaar (25 Jan).
DSF builds up to a climax with the last week dedicated to Perfumes (26 Jan– 1 Feb) with City Centre Mirdif’s “Central Galleria” serving as the flagship venue. A specially set up Perfume Village will host a perfume museum with experts sharing tips on how to match perfumes. And if you’re travelling to Dubai on 26th Jan, leave your cologne at home. In a world-record breaking attempt, over 200 personnel will simultaneously spray perfume worth AED 1 million at Terminal 1 & 3 of Dubai Airport and MAF malls at Deira, Measem and other locations in the “The Biggest Perfume Sampling” event ever!
The 21st edition of DSF also features the Middle East debut of Wanderland, a unique exhibition by French luxury house Hermès, which opens to public on 21st Jan at the Dubai Fountain. The exhibition will be afloat across a 1000 sq m area at the Dubai Fountain next to Souk Al Bahar. After London and Paris, Dubai will be the third city in the world to host the astounding fashion and art installation based on the Parisian theme of flânerie or the act of strolling.
Another treat for connoisseurs is the Carpet & Art Oasis 2016 – one of the world’s largest exhibitions of hand woven carpets. Spread over 54 pavilions, it showcases 250,000 silk and wool rugs worth AED 2 billion, crafted in Persia, China, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, besides India.
With VISA’s Impossible Deals, shoppers can get almost 80% off across electronics, travel, entertainment, luxury goods and automobiles. A great location to catch all the DSF action is Global Village, Dubai’s leading family entertainment and cultural attraction. It features a unique shopping experience at 65 pavilions, representing the culture, cuisine and handicrafts of various countries. Enjoy shopping hours till midnight from Saturday to Wednesday with timings extended to 1am on Thursdays and Fridays.
Built on the three main pillars of Shopping, Winnings and Entertainment, the festival is a chance for anyone to strike it big. Over the years, there have been many heart-warming stories of success. This year, the annual Infiniti Mega Raffle lets one lucky shopper drive home an Infiniti QX70 with AED 200,000 in cash every day.
The raffle draw takes place daily at Global Village next to Gate 2 at 10pm. For every AED200 you spend, Shop, Play & Win gives you a raffle ticket and a chance to win a Nissan Pathfinder every week. If you’re finicky about the car, try your luck at the daily Nissan Grand Raffle where you can win one of the eight cars from Nissan’s stable – from an X-Trail to Patrol.
All this, thrown in with some mega entertainment. From plays and ballet to dance and theatre, there’s a lot on offer during DSF – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Russell Peters Almost Famous World Tour (19 – 20 Jan) at Dubai World Trade Centre and a rock concert featuring Simple Minds (28 Jan).
The DSF Carnival at THE BEACH Piazza features jugglers, fire eaters, acrobats, stilt walkers, unicyclists, musicians, dancers and entertainers. BoxPark, a trendy mile-long entertainment quarter of restaurants and funky stores in renovated shipping containers will host beat-boxing, live shows and DJs spinning tunes from food trucks.
For a touch of tradition, Emirati heritage events like Fazza Championships mark the best in falconry, shooting and pearl diving. Glam up your spirit of adventure and try SkyDive Dubai, go on a seaplane tour for an exhilarating aerial view of landmarks like Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa or try dune-bashing on jeep and quad bikes, camel rides and horse riding at the DSF Desert Camp. There’s also spectacular fireworks display at The Beach, Creek Park and Global Village. DSF truly lives up to its tagline of “Unwrap The Exceptional”.
Choose from world class hotels like Anantara Resorts at Palm Jumeirah with stunning lagoon villas, excellent cuisine at Mekong and the only Thai long-tail boat ride experience in Dubai. With exciting DSF packages being offered by travel agencies, great flight connectivity by Emirates and promotions from leading five-star hotels and resorts, it’s a great time to visit Dubai. Just download the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank or ADIB’s DSF Mobile App for the schedule and latest offers. And put some ‘buy’ in Dubai.
Close on the heels of DSF, the DFF or Dubai Food Festival (25 Feb-12 Mar) will bring the best flavours from around the world to the city. Signature dishes, celebrity chefs, beach canteens and food n wine tastings at Michelin star restaurants as part of Dubai Restaurant Week; there’s plenty of exploration for your taste buds. To see Dubai’s action packed festive calendar, visit www.dubaicalendar.ae.
Author: Anurag Mallick. This is the unedited version of the article that appeared on 8 January, 2016 in Conde Nast Traveller online. Read the story on CNT at http://www.cntraveller.in/story/how-to-navigate-dubai-shopping-festival-2016/#s-custweek-1-1-7-january