Dubai's Global Village back for socially distanced edition

Cultural performers and street artists had their masks up, too, as they entertained the revellers

  
People wear protective masks, following an outbreak of coronavirus, as they walk at Global Village in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 10, 2020. Picture taken March 10, 2020.

People wear protective masks, following an outbreak of coronavirus, as they walk at Global Village in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 10, 2020. Picture taken March 10, 2020.

REUTERS/Satish Kumar
UAE -  The Global Village is offering a socially distanced shopping and leisure experience as it returned for its silver jubilee year on Sunday. Visitors in masks were ushered into the park after thermal camera checks.

The ongoing pandemic did not seem to dip the spirit of the visitors as organisers ensured a crowd-free venue. Cultural performers and street artists had their masks up, too, as they entertained the revellers.

Twenty-six pavilions highlight over 70 cultures from around the world, with Russia, Vietnam and Cambodia being the new additions. All venues at the park had bright floor stickers to ensure social distancing.

More than 600 hand sanitising stations have been set up around the park. Seating arrangements with prohibitory stickers dot the place to ensure visitors’ safety. Complimentary face masks are made available for children.

Families back at venue on school night

Pakistani expat Mariam Wasif, who visited the fair with her three daughters, said: “I was waiting for this mega fair to open its doors once again. It really is one of the go-to places in Dubai. However, today we’ve just come to check out the place as the weather has also improved.

“We need to leave quickly as my children have school tomorrow. I’ll come again over the weekend to look around properly and shop as incredible things from different countries are on offer here.”

Yann Odhman said he visits the park “at least 20 times” every season. He even rebooked his sister’s air tickets back to Lebanon so that she could stay back and enjoy the Global Village experience.

“We paid extra $100 to reschedule the tickets. Even my mother, who is visiting from France, is here for the opening. We understand it’s a new normal that we are living in, but we can’t stop living and be morose due to Covid-19. Instead, we all need to be careful and follow all precautions like wear masks properly and sanitise our hands frequently,” said Yann.

Indian expat Bharati Shankar said hunkering at home is not a solution. “This year is different in many ways, but the Dubai government is doing its best to ensure the safety of its citizens and residents. Rest is our responsibility. Enjoy but be cautious.”

Vendors committed to ensuring safety of visitors

Narindra Heriminosa, a vendor from Madagascar, was seen sitting with handwoven African baskets, as she carried her baby on her shoulders. She reiterated that life has to go on despite Covid-19.

“I have to get my baby to the stall everyday, so I have to be extra cautious while dealing with my customers — both for my baby’s well being and guest safety. I wear gloves while showing them my items and constantly sanitise my hands,” said Narindra.

She said she had deliver her baby here as the previous edition ended earlier than usual and flights stopped due to the pandemic. “This is my 10th season at the fair and I am looking forward to some good business this year.”

Filipino expat Josie, who owns a garment stall at the newly opened Cambodia pavilion, said this is his 10th season. “One can’t stop living due to Covid-19. Today, the fair has just opened. But I have been peeping out to see if the food stalls have people. That brings me hope that visitors are coming and may eventually stop by our pavilion, too.”

Taoufiq Rafiai, who is selling Moroccan goods like copper and earthen pots, said he would sanitise and wipe objects as much as possible this year.

“I have been participating for the last eight years now. This year, we need to make sure that too many people don’t crowd around our shops. Business has to go on even in this new normal.”

 

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