Two weekends ago, I took a trip down to the global village with Tega and Kai, my co west African Jollof. We’d set out for sightseeing for the week, to explore a bit of the UAE and ultimately to tick our social activity meter as functional and healthy. One of the few places to visit in Dubai on our bucket list was the global village, a large entertainment complex where you can experience diverse cultures all around the world.
Before we departed for the global village, I’d taken a few minutes to measure the level of “damage” before us. I remember every time I drove past the huge park on Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, I would cringe at the number of cars parked outside – camped like a million man crusade or to be more precise, resembling “a car auction terminus”.
Left to me, I wouldn’t bother going out of my comfort zone on a given day for such trip cause when you’ve lived in this part of the world for long, nothing really tickles your fancy. Burj Khalifa, the malls, the fancy restaurant, skydive, you name it. Somehow, directly or indirectly you realize you’ve visited these places before, and Dubai does well to rearrange your mind and thought process of the world with things that are considered dreams in other places as normal. This things, in turn, become part of you and strips you of that element of surprise that comes with modernity in a city like Dubai. You become confident that very soon your apple computer will print out shawarma for you if the city so pleases.
Last year, 5 million people visited this place, this year the number had doubled – a true entertainment pilgrimage for the region if you ask me. Which meant Something was happening here that kept these numbers at a high and it was worth figuring out.
While I reflected on the thought of time and obviously if I could possibly drive out of traffic after our rendezvous, I would behold a new global village standing right in front of me. I couldn’t help but be amazed by the changes this place had seen since I last visited. I mean, I had been here twice, obviously, there was nothing fresh that could possibly hit me. But I was wrong, the global village was different now from what I knew it to be and it was sparkling in its glory.
So let’s start with the lights, cause that got me all pumped up, except you are coming at daytime. The last time I came here three years ago it was a bit calm. Nothing really spectacular. It wasn’t as if there was no energy, but something was different now. Now was beautiful, now was a whole new experience, and the beauty was a different kind of beauty. I noticed the fancy lights cuddled around some parts of the walkway had been remade to fine metallic designs that reflected different colors on the part. The lights socked you into the moment and gave you goosebump like a getaway in Disney Land.
From the gates, there was a crowd of people walking hand in hand into the open space. Distance from the gate a mini band comprising of five members had driven down on a tricycle. The metal ride which was converted into a multipurpose show carriage took in two passengers sitting and three standing. They drove down slowly, smiling and waving into the crowd while their music from a music box played aimlessly into the air. Their happiness was so infectious, the crowd couldn’t contain it, they had to join in the unknown celebration. At the center of the crowd, they stepped down from their ride and started a well-choreographed dance that lasted for about five minutes. The crowd will surround them, clapping and cheering till the five-man show came to an end. This was exactly how I was welcome to the global village.
Of course, global village is known for its different country representation, and that clearly shows in the artistic structures of several countries laid out in specific places as you navigate through the village. But this was secondary to the feeling you get from seeing all the beautiful people around, taking pictures or just sitting around eating cooked or roasted corn from multiple vendors.
I noticed the organizers had changed the location of some of the structures and even built a few in addition to the existing ones. This is one of the good things about building moveable structures. There’s room for innovation and visitors are not bored of the exact same thing every year.
I also noticed this place now had a bank, a pharmacy, grocery, everything you could possibly want to lay your hands on at a go was here.
Deep down the village, there was a bike and motor show that got my attention. The little space was packed with people waiting anxiously to see the show start. We stood outside looking since I didn’t want to be involved in a rush out when it finally came to a close and I wanted the freedom to move on whenever I liked to. So, the show began after a few minutes and before I knew it, there were bike men flying through the rough and through a different opening, with sounds of movie score sending down a theater like feeling on the audience.
I’d never really been a fan of fast moving things but this was quite impressive to watch since it was showcased in a theatrical form. The cast did quite amazing showing some fighting skills in real life, while there was a simulation of cars driving at great speed, navigating through different parts. The crowd made it all fun by feeding the actors with their cheers. They would go wild when there was an interesting stunt. The lights, the music, the cast and everything in between delivered an impressive performance to watch.
After a while, I took a walk with the gang to a different spot. We had walked three minutes from the bike and motor show and was confronted with another show. “The Indian Bollywood show”. To be fair, this was not the first time I would be seeing an Indian dance performance in real life. My schoolmates in university had done it several times on cultural days and on youth festivals. It made me feel like every Indian kid undergoes a master class in classical dance before being sent into the world. But this one was different. This one was at a different level.
To be honest, Indians can dance for supper. No jokes. And the costumes were just spectacular. I don’t know where they get the strength from cause at a go we had seen almost ten different dance routine with different costumes. Again the place was packed. The cast was really stunning and they looked the same age and hight. I wondered if they auditioned them from the same family cus the semblance was mind-blowing.
There were other shows we couldn’t attend but at least we got a glimpse of the African pavilion, a well-crafted structure that drips of ancient African artistry on the in and out. The funny thing is that most of the shops sold the same thing. Share-butter was a popular product that was packaged in a different form. it was nostalgia all the way with the way the shop owners were calling out to the customer to patronize their goods. Made me remember going to the market to buy stuff for my mum and being called all sorts of sweet names just to spend my money.
At the end of the day, we still couldn’t believe this place had change this much. We couldn’t cover everything but it was clear that sometimes visiting old places we haven’t seen in a while is worth every energy and sweat. Sometimes, we don’t see the magic that lies in these places at first but giving it time, we are compelled to have a different perspective and appreciate the beauty follows especially when physical changes go hand in hand with how such places evolve. My bias of Dubai had been challenged a little bit.
So If there’s anything to get you out of your boredom self-today, your unhappiness or even a looming depression after work traffic might cause you, or your soon to expire house rent, come take out time in September when global village reopens again and give yourself a treat. If you don’t know what to do, just look and admire the beautiful faces or yet still watch the activities going on. You will see that this place is the catalyst of pure wonder. Looks good to the eyes and soothing to the soul. I kid you not. Everything TV like is here. Everything global is here, Get off that couch today and go global.
Global Village is one of the best places to visit in Dubai. The fare is just 35aed and totally worth it.