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Dubai Shopping FestivalA true shopper will find it difficult to resist the Dubai Shopping Festival. Attracting 3.5 million visitors each year, the festival is a great time to plan your holiday to Dubai. Held Annually, this year the festival took place between 15 January and 15 February. The festival usually takes place within the first quarter of the year.

The shopping in Dubai is excellent at any time of year, however it is exceptionally so during the festival. There are unique items you cannot find anywhere else in the world, as well as some outstanding bargains. While Dubai is already a bargain hunter’s paradise with it’s tax free shopping, the discounts are even bigger during the festival. On offer are favourites such as clothes, perfume and gold, the latest electronics as well as local specialities such as carpets and textiles.

Known to the locals as Layali Dubai, the Dubai Shopping Festival launched in 1996 as a retail trade event. The event took off, and quickly grew into the massive cultural phenomenon that it is today. Last year visitors spent Dh10 Billion and that figure is expected to climb again in 2010.

The festival's slogan is ‘One Family, One World, One Festival’, and seeks to describe its goal to unite people from all over the globe by providing a wide range of entertainment and festivities within Dubai City. Part of this ethos is the idea of the global village in Dubai. Back at the festival’s launch, an idea was coined of a global village where wares from all over the world could be bought and sold. The idea came to fruition and the global village was constructed in Dubailand. Boosted by the expatriate population in Dubai the concept flourished, the global village is now a large part of the festival. This year goods from over sixty countries were on sale.

Dubai boasts some of the largest shopping malls in the world. There are forty malls which participate in the Dubai Shopping Festival, which incorporate over 2300 retails outlets. The extravaganza also extends to many of Dubai’s souks, or local markets.

Of course, you don’t have to be a shopper to enjoy the festival. The festival boasts itself to be an entire entertainment experience that extends beyond great shopping. There are activities going on all over the city throughout the festival, day and night. Enjoy live entertainment for the whole family during the day, followed each night by fireworks, laser shows and even concerts. Take in the culinary delights that the city as to offer by trying out different cuisines and restaurants.

If you like prizes then the Dubai Shopping festival is the place for you, over one billion dollars worth have been given out since the festival begun. Last year alone, Dh 100 Million of goodies got handed out, that’s over Dh 3.2 Million a day! Perhaps the most exciting part of the festival is the daily raffles. On the streets of Dubai, as well as in the shopping malls there are giveaways with some prizes you won’t believe. You may be able to win some perfume, some new clothes or even an ipod. If you are really lucky you may even win a car, some gold, or cold hard cash!

Many companies offer discounts and specials during the festival for tourists. Emirates Airlines are a major sponsor of the event and often have flight and accommodation packages which coincide with the event. Many other hotels and tourism organisations will offer special rates also.

Important tip - If you plan to attend, make sure you book your Hotel in Dubai well in advance as they fill up very quickly.

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