Dubai, United Arab Emirates
“Cheap-looking world’s fair, but very enjoyable atmosphere”
The United Arab Emirates were supposed to be hosting Expo 2020 from October until April. However, like almost every major event in 2020, it had to be postponed. The world’s fair was rescheduled to the winter of 2021-2022, but even during covid times we found a place in Dubai where we could get a taste of many different cultures. Since 1996, the city has hosted an annual event called Global Village. The idea of Global Village is similar to that of the world’s fair: there are about 30 pavilions, each one dedicated to a country or a region. Let’s put on our face masks and enter through the park’s stunning Gate of the World.
Global Village is home to an area called The Carnaval. It may be described as a permanent funfair with a ton of attractions. The Carnaval is huge and it features most of the rides you’ll find at larger European funfairs. Most of those attractions seem movable, but there are a few solid theme park attractions as well. One of them is London Loop, a Vekoma Junior Boomerang. The ride is predictable and short, but I was amazed by its smoothness. A second coaster credit is Mumbai Xpress, one of those silly spinning coasters manufactured by SBF Visa. Attractions at The Carnaval aren’t included in general admission, so be prepared to pay approximately 10 to 30 dirhams (€2.25 to €6.75) for a ride.
Global Village is a feast for the eyes. The park has put a lot of effort in landscaping and the lighting is very colourful. Most pavilions have impressive facades, which makes this place incredibly Instagrammable. However, don’t expect an EPCOT-like experience when entering those pavilions. Most of them are filled with cheap-looking shops. I’m not interested in generic souvenirs, so I found the insides of those pavilions rather underwhelming. It may be good to know that Global Village’s focus is on Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. This feels a little strange from a European point of view, but it makes sense if you consider that 90 percent of visitors are locals.
Global Village is usually open from late afternoon until midnight or so. Thanks to this timing, it’s an ideal place to enjoy Dubai’s wonderful evening temperatures. This also makes Global Village a perfect place to have dinner. You may opt for one of many international restaurants, but personally I’d recommend getting multiple snacks at a few different stalls. There are dozens of food carts along the park’s main avenue and Global Village even installed a cute floating market, reminiscent to those you encounter in the Far East. By the way: don’t expect beer, wine or alcoholic cocktails at Global Village. Alcohol is served in the United Arab Emirates, but you’ll only find it in licensed hotels and resorts.
WORTH A VISIT?
Global Village is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s not a world’s fair, it’s not an amusement park and it’s not a night market. However, it combines elements of all these things and the result is very enjoyable. Be sure to come here with the right expectations: Global Village is not on Disney level, so this isn’t the Arabian alternative for EPCOT. Fortunately, the admission fee isn’t on Disney level either. Adults pay just 15 dirhams (less than €3.50) to get in. Value for money, if you ask me! By the way… if you’re planning an extensive coaster tour through the United Arab Emirates, an evening at Global Village can easily be combined with an afternoon at IMG Worlds of Adventure. Dubai’s largest indoor theme park is located just around the corner.
GATE OF THE WORLD
Did you get the chance to visit this unique park yet? Should the park invest in more permanent theme park rides? And what would be your favourite pavilion? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.