Global Village Dubai: The UAE’s biggest cultural market

It’s mind-boggling that so many expats and tourists haven’t heard of this place. Especially when it’s literally hands down the best place to be amongst local people and experience Middle Eastern culture bar an Emirati’s home, and it’s one of the oldest secret spots in the UAE – entering its 19th year for 2015.

Jam-packed with locals, this mammoth market is exactly what it says on the tin – a global village. Almost every country that you can think of is represented here in market sections or ‘pavilions’. Pass by India to purchase a wide range of spices, skip over to Lebanon for some unique fashion pieces, stop off in Kuwait for beautiful abayas and then relax with a massage in Thailand. Other notable pavilions include Iran for incredible Persian handmade carpets, China for everything you can possibly think of, including all of the latest iPhone cases, Pakistan for luxurious leathers, Yemen for artisanal honey, Spain for world-famous churros, and Egypt for pure cotton garments.

Take visitors to the UAE pavilion and peruse the best selection of oud, incense burners and perfume oils, and invite them to try to UAE’s ‘unofficial, official’ beverage at the Karak tea stalls.

Food wise prepare to shock your tastebuds with an array of weird and wonderful cuisine. Try the Iranian Falooda, which is a magically odd combination of shaved ice, falooda – noodles made from cornstarch – topped with sugar syrup, lemon juice and rose water. Date Lgeimat, a popular UAE dessert of fried donuts with date syrup is also worth a nibble, and the Palestinian Pavilion is the place to visit for Zaatar lovers, churning out an impossible number of combinations of this Middle Eastern spice. The Yemeni honey includes a special “for married only” batch for those feeling amorous and the homemade labnehs in the Levantine areas should be high on your shopping list too.

Insider tip: Take cash, and although the atmosphere is better at night to avoid the crowds go earlier in the day. Nothing is fixed price – barter, barter, barter! Note: It is wise to dress modestly and Global Village is closed during the summer months as it is an open-air venue.

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