Friday, September 30, 2022

Fasting and family: Global Village’s approach to Ramadan in 2022

Global Village, Dubai’s family destination combining international retail, food, entertainment and attractions extended its 2021/2022 calendar so that guests could experience the spirit of Ramadan at the park for the first time. To find out more about the new experience we spoke with Bader Anwahi, Chief Executive Officer, Global Village about the special Ramadan offerings. This year, the holy month of Ramadan began April 2, 2022 and ends with Eid al-Fitr on May 2, 2022.

Bader Anwahi, Chief Executive Officer, Global Village. Photos courtesy of Global Village

Why did Global Village decide to stay open for Ramadan this year? Has this ever happened before?

The success and positive feedback received from guests encouraged us to remain open throughout Ramadan this season, giving guests plenty of opportunity to discover Ramadan traditions from a multitude of different countries and cultures.

This year is also the first time in our history that we will be able to celebrate Eid Al Fitr with our guests and partners, which will be a very special moment for us. This Eid is a celebration that signals the end of Ramadan and is traditionally celebrated with new clothes, tasty treats and gift giving. Global Village is a perfect place to do just that with unique gifts for the entire family, mouthwatering cuisines as well as world-class attractions and entertainment.

Are the offerings at Global Village different during Ramadan than during the rest of the season?

Ramadan is a time of fasting and reflection and we have designed the experience with this in mind, moving to quieter ambient entertainment for example. Global Village opens later during this period so guests can break their fast at Global Village. We have created a vast outdoor “Majlis,” which offers “Iftar,” the first meal after the fast, and “Suhoor”, which is usually eaten much later at night before the new day of fasting begins. The traditional Majlis is a place where communities gather to receive guests, socialize and be entertained, and the Majlis of the World is the perfect place to enjoy traditional Arabic hospitality while listening to the calming sounds of the live instruments including oud, qanun, nay and harp.

Next to the Majlis, a cannon fires at sunset to mark Iftar in a beloved Ramadan tradition. Ahead of Suhoor, the voice of a Musaharati, also known as the “night caller,” fills the air as he calls on people to start a new day in Ramadan. On the Main Stage, a 25-piece Arabesque Orchestra and a Ukrainian violinist perform Khaleeji tunes that evoke the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Global Village is transformed with lights, decoration, and ambient entertainment creating a relaxing atmosphere during the holy month. Guests can also shop for the perfect Ramadan and Eid gift items as well as everything they need at home.

The dates of Ramadan are different each year, so did this year’s dates factor into this decision?

Global Village operates from October to April/May when the weather is cool and people spend more time outdoors. With Ramadan starting earlier in the year, it was a perfect opportunity to delight guests, unite cultures, and bring our communities even closer together.

Our operating hours changed from standard timings, with the park open from 6pm to 2am daily to accommodate guests during Iftar and Suhoor.

For our readers who may not be familiar with Ramadan, the perception might be that the holy month is not conducive to the fun atmosphere of Global Village. Can you help explain how it fits together?

While the holy month of Ramadan is a time for reflection, it is also an occasion to reconnect with loved ones, and there is no better place than Global Village to experience these authentic moments. It is also a great place for tourists to experience many interesting Ramadan customs from across the region. We are delighted that we have been able to prolong the season and welcome guests to enjoy this auspicious occasion with us.

What else have you been promoting throughout this season?

Global Village renews its offering every season and this season was no exception. Guest of all ages enjoyed an inspiring line-up of adventures, attractions and experiences – including 3,500 retail shops, 200+ dining options, 40,000 shows and more than 170 rides, games and attractions at Carnaval.

New food concepts included a new Railway Market, inspired by Thailand’s world-famous “Umbrella Market,” offering sweet treats from across Asia and around the world. The Floating market, with captivating tastes from the Far East, was given a new home with more space and a stunning backdrop of the Dragon Lake with its majestic, fire-breathing dragon.

This season’s entertainment and event line-up was spectacular. We introduced the Harbour Force water stunt show, over 20 kids-and-family bespoke productions, dozens of street shows and of course, our traditional cultural performances. On average, we presented over 200 shows every day. In addition, we hosted three international award-winning guest shows: Burn The Floor, Swing Latino and AAINJAA. We launched our first-ever Happiness Street Fest featuring some of the world’s most talented street artists from every continent and revived the Global Village Concert series with renowned artists from the region and beyond, including Assala Nasri, Tamer Hosny, Saad Lamjarred, Anne-Marie and Guru Randhawa.

Tell us how Expo 2020 impacted the season for Global Village.

The UAE’s tourism sector witnessed a boost driven by Expo 2020 Dubai and the United Arab Emirates’ Golden Jubilee festivities, making it one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. Unsurprisingly, Global Village was on travelers’ radars this season with a large number of international tourists as guests. The general buzz in the city was palpable and residents were also excited to get out and about this year.

How do you keep guests coming back?

We continue to invest to improve the guest experience and add new experiences so we never stop surprising our guests. We pride ourselves on offering new experiences for guests to enjoy every year at Global Village. New enhancements and attractions ensure our thriving park remains a premier destination for guests from across the globe.

As soon as we open one season we are already planning for the next! We work with short-, mid-, and long-term planning cycles. We incorporate feedback and use a multitude of data points to develop our master plans so we keep our guest at the center of our thinking.

Our mission is to bring together extraordinary people from around the world to inspire wonder and redefine how we experience culture.

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, CNN.com and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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