Global VIllage Dubai Grand Entrance

Global Village: Dubai’s version of Disney’s Epcot Center for only $4

By: | February 26th, 2016 | 6 Comments

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We flew through Abu Dhabi on our way back from the Maldives, so decided to make our first visit to the Middle East and take a few days to check out one of the world’s top tourist destinations this year: Dubai. We only had 2 days to check out the vast new city before heading home and back to work, and thought this would be enough, but had no idea how much this city has to offer. We wanted to get as much bang for our buck as possible, so true to our travel style, were extremely busy exploring full-speed ahead. We made sure to hit up the must-sees on day one. We visited the Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world, with its musical Dubai Fountains, the largest choreographed fountain in the world. We saw the adjoining Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. We ended our first day checking out the old textile souk, which is a traditional Arabic market, and found some fantastic souvenirs. We wanted to do an Arabian Night Desert Safari complete with camel rides, Arabic food, belly dancing, henna tattoos, and falconry displays. However, we did not reserve it in advance, so our options were limited to a tour that had about 150 people along for the ride, which sounded a little too touristy and crowded for our tastes. So that experience will have to wait for the next trip to the United Arab Emirates with some better advance planning. For those looking to save some money on a desert safari, we heard from a local that you can purchase the desert safaris on Groupon for a much cheaper price, such as $25-50 USD per person, as compared to $100 per person or more if booking directly through the tour company or through your hotel.
So without a desert safari to take up our second afternoon and evening (they pick you up from your hotel around 3pm and don’t bring you back until around 9pm), we found ourselves with a free afternoon. We got excellent recommendations from a taxi driver to check out Miracle Garden, an oasis of flowers in the desert, and Global Village, since we told him we like cultural things when visiting new countries. We managed to fit in both in one afternoon/evening, and absolutely loved both!
When we drove up to Global Village, my first impression was that we were at a large amusement park due to the huge parking lot and multiple entrance gates. We were dropped off by our taxi at the staff entry gate, so we decided to pay 10 AED ($2.70 for both of us) for a ride to the main gate on a fun passenger cart pulled by a bicycle. I loved his costume, and it was nice feeling the breeze while riding to the main gate. It actually wasn’t very far, but the ride was fun.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel AdventurersOnce we arrived to the main gate, I felt like we were no longer at just any amusement park, but at the most magical place on earth: Disney World. There were long ticket lines, but they went extremely quickly thanks to electronic ticket kiosks manned by staff. I was shocked (in a good way) at the entrance fee. It was only 15 AED ($4.10per person. I still am in disbelief over how cheap it is to get in this fabulous place! The entrance is very beautiful with Russian architecture inspiring the main entry gates. Dramatic onion domes in white and gold during the day are lit up by bright neon colors at night.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers

Beautiful Russian themed grand entrance at Dubai’s Global Village

I was wearing a dress that barely reached the top of my knees, and was warned by one security guard that I might not be admitted since my dress did not cover my knees. He said I may have to go buy a long skirt or pants and come back, but that I could try my luck and see if they would let me in. So I stretched my dress down to cover my knees and walked very carefully through the entry gates hoping no one would say anything about it being too short. Whew, I made it. Thank goodness. So please make sure to wear a long skirt or pants (men-possibly no shorts, but I’m not sure since Bertaut was wearing pants) when planning to visit Global Village, or you may be turned away and sent to buy some proper clothing. We learned the hard way in Abu Dhabi when visiting Emirates Palace and were sent away due to Bertaut wearing shorts.

Inside Global Village, we were snapping photos right and left of the different countries that are represented throughout the enormous site. If you’ve ever been to Disney’s Epcot Center, this is my best way to explain what it’s like, but with a mix of state fair and carnival all in one. However, instead of each country offering kiddie rides like at Epcot, there are live music and dance performances from each culture and thousands of vendors selling crafts, merchandise, and food from their country. Locals describe it as an international bazaar. We were pleasantly surprised to see how many locals were there enjoying the village, since we like to go where the locals go when traveling, as they tend to know the best stuff to do.

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers

Russia Pavillion World at Dubai Global Village

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers

Americas Pavilion World at Dubai Global Village

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers

China Pavilion World at Dubai Global Village

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers

Thailand Pavilion World at Dubai Global Village

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers

Iran Pavilion World at Dubai Global Village

It is a bargain shopper’s paradise, and we negotiated some deals that seemed too good to be true on gorgeous tribal jewelry from Turkey made with lapis lazuli, turquoise, and coral. We even scored a giant antique emerald ring that Bertaut decided to get for himself, and joked about someone chopping off his hand to steal his ring since it is THAT BIG. It’s so fitting that he found a giant emerald ring since both his children and his wife were born in May and have emerald birthstones. You know what they say about too good to be true though? After our return trip home, one of our friends who is in the jewelry business said the ring was not authentic emerald. 🙁 Oh well, he still likes it and can pull it off. After leaving Global Village, I was kicking myself for not buying more jewelry at the unbeatable prices. Next time, I’m not holding back.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Jewelry shopping

Global Village Dubai Jewelry Shopping

Giant ring Bertaut bought in the Turkish Pavilion World (we were told it was an antique emerald)

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Jewelry shopping

Amazing lapis lazuli jewelry and excellent bargains in the Turkish pavilion

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Jewelry shoppingWhile wandering around exploring the globe, we started to get hungry so had some snacks to tide us over until dinner. Bertaut had 2 ears of grilled corn, which were 10 AED each (about $5 for both). We shared some local specialities from the Heritage Cooking site where local women were preparing 2 dishes that I can best describe as fried beignets drizzled with molasses and a crepe with a fried egg and a triangle of cheese melted inside. The crepe, which they call Kubz Riggag, was 10 AED and the beignets (can’t remember what those were called) were 20 AED, so this tasty little snack only set us back about $8.50. Much better than Disney prices, right!Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers FoodGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Food CornGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Bedoin Food Heritage CookingGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Park Heritage BedouinGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Heritage cooking bedouin Food

After spending hours enjoying the sites of this fantastic gem in Dubai, we worked up our appetites. We had dinner there and were surprised by the excellent quality of the food in the food court, which offers 18 different restaurants of varying world cuisines. We had Chicken Tikka and the Haleem Special at a Pakistani restaurant called Al Haaj Bundoo Khan, which was the first restaurant we saw when walking from the ride area. Both dishes were delicious and fresh, although I preferred the former which was spicier and had big chunks of chicken as opposed to shredded chicken. We also ordered some white rice, garlic naan, a mango lassi, and a large bottle of water and our meal was just 105 AED ($28). It was way more food than we could eat, and they offered to package it to go, but since we were flying out the next morning, we sadly had to say goodbye to our yummy leftover food. As we walked further down the food court we noticed that most of the other restaurants were relatively empty, but where we ate was completely full, which speaks to their excellent cuisine.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Restaurants FoodGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers RestaurantsWhile eating dinner and walking around, we enjoyed seeing people dressed up in the traditional clothing of their countries. This guy was dressed in traditional Pakistani clothing- what an outfit! It’s too bad people don’t dress like that now. I could dig Bertaut walking around in that suit. Hmmm maybe for Halloween?Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Cultural OutfitsThis young man was serving Syrian juice made from tamarind fruit that he poured out of this giant carafe on his back. He let Bertaut taste the juice, which he described as refreshing.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel AdventurersBertaut had to get a photo with his African brothers of the Maasai tribe in Kenya, but unfortunately we didn’t stick around late enough to see them perform, which I’m sure would have been very energetic and entertaining.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers CulturalGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Cultural

Most of the countries begin live performances around 7pm and offer shows on the hour or more often until late into the night. We headed back into Turkey to get a few more bargain jewelry pieces on our way out and happened to catch this Turkish dance performance. Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers

Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Turkey Whirling Dervishes Dance

The Turkish Dancing performance was quite delightful and got us excited to visit Turkey



There’s even amusement park rides for extra fees, but we opted to skip that since we just ate dinner and thought that could only lead to bad things. The Ferris wheel probably would have been a safe option, and would be a great choice for those visiting with young children. They had ride packages available for children that seemed reasonably priced- I think it was 150 AED ($41) for unlimited children’s rides, or a family package that was 99 AED ($27) for 4 entry tickets to Global Village plus 75 AED credit for rides. They also had little boats called abras that cruised around the village’s canal, reminiscent of Venice’s famed gondola rides.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers ParkGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers ParkI didn’t check the price on those rides but can’t imagine it was too expensive, since everything was reasonable.
One final treat at Global Village was the fountain show, which was similar to the one at Dubai Mall but smaller in scale. We saw a lovely little show while meandering around and couldn’t help but dance along to the fantastic Indian song.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Water show

Global Village Dubai is a must-do for anyone who likes cultural activities or who likes to travel, since you feel like you are discovering the world in one stop. It is the world’s largest tourism, leisure, and entertainment project and is the region’s first cultural, entertainment, family and shopping destination. They have been open for 20 years but have been growing in size, with over 5 million visitors last year on their 17,200,000 sq ft site. It is located on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, exit 37, and can be accessed by public buses, cars, or taxis. They feature 32 pavilions representing more than 75 countries with different cultures, merchandise, and cuisines. The Fantasy Island funfair is great for children and adults alike, with both thrilling and kid-friendly rides. We highly recommend this place for families since there are a ton of fun, educational, and cultural activities all in one spot and at an excellent value. Children age 3 and under, senior citizens over age 65, and guests who show a valid disability ID card get free admission. If you plan to visit with children, you may want to go on Monday, which they have dedicated to families only, so children and parents can spend quality time at the park. The map below shows the layout of the site, which is magnificent.Global Village Dubai MapAt night the pavilions are lit up and the countries glow with vibrant colors. Photos cannot do it justice. You must go see it for yourself!Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers ParkGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers ParkApparently we missed the daily fireworks display by a few minutes, which occurs at 9pm for 5 minutes. We also weren’t around the main stage at the right time to watch the Festival show, which incorporates the sights of 5 of the best festivals in the world, and the Dreams show, which is a family production inspired by the stories of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights). These shows are offered several times daily, so check the schedule online to help plan your visit at the Global Village website. We will definitely plan to catch those shows the next time and stay until closing. We spent about 4 hours there and barely scratched the surface of all they offer. We could have easily spent an entire evening from open to close if we had entered into every country and looked at the merchandise from all over the world and watched more of the cultural music and dance performances. We spent about an hour at one shop alone in Turkey perusing their impressive collection and buying our beautiful Turkish jewelry at a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere. We barely looked at the items being offered in the other countries due to the sheer quantity of merchandise and knowing that we already purchased our souvenirs at the Old Souk on our first night. We did not have enough time to look at everything since we wanted to get back to our hotel early to prepare for our flight home the following morning. Next time we’re in Dubai, we will plan to spend an entire evening here and will bring a lot of cash to bargain to our hearts’ content for unique global souvenirs all in one fantastic spot.Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers ParkGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Park ShoppingGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Park Jewelry ShoppingGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Park ShoppingWhile looking at their website after our visit, I realized that we missed so much that Global Village has to offer, all included with the admission price. One area we would have enjoyed is Heritage Village. This area shows representations of what Bedouin life was and still can be like, showing how people camped, ate, and lived. They also have some of the different animals they kept, which would be fun and educational for families. We visited Heritage Village in Abu Dhabi, but we heard that Dubai’s is much bigger and better.
In addition to the cultural shows offered in the pavilions and on the main stage, they also offer stunt shows with thrilling daredevil acts, circus shows, street performers such as acrobats and stilt walkers roaming the village, cartoon characters for kids to meet (the Smurfs, Sandy the camel), and concerts. All of this is free with admission, can you believe it?Global Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers ParkGlobal Village Dubai United Arab Emirates Tourism Things to do in Dubai World Travel Adventurers Park Entertainment If you plan to visit Global Village, be aware that they are only open 6 months out of the year during the cooler months. The 2015-2016 season opened on November 3, 2015 and will close in April 2016. It would be too hot and miserable for anyone to attend during the summer. The vendors also need the rest of the year to return to their countries of origin and restock their supplies of authentic items from around the world. Global Village is open 7 days a week, from 4pm to midnight (Saturday to Wednesday), and until 1am on Thursday, Friday, and public holidays.
In conclusion, I’ve never seen anything quite like Global Village in Dubai. I was in shopper’s paradise and am absolutely thrilled about my unique jewelry purchases. I also am a huge fan of Disney’s Epcot Center and felt like I was in Dubai’s version of it. No, there is not a Disney in the Middle East, but this is the closest you will find to one in Dubai, with the representations of countries around the world. However, instead of paying $100 each to get into Disney, we spent just $4 each, which is truly unbelievable. The place is extremely clean, well staffed, organized, and designed to ensure the comfort of its guests. Honestly, I’m not sure how they can afford to operate the place with all they offer for such a low admission price. The bathrooms are very clean and large so I didn’t even have to wait, which is unheard of at other amusement parks I’ve visited in the U.S. They offer Mothers Rooms inside the bathroom area, which is a nice touch especially for breastfeeding mothers or for those needing to change diapers. They also provide male and female prayer rooms, a health clinic and ambulance, a room for lost children, a police station, money exchange center, customer service center, and of course ATMs. At the front gate, they also have strollers and shopping carts available to rent, which would come in handy for families or for those who go crazy with the shopping. I plan to go hog wild next time and will bring an extra suitcase just for my Global Village purchases. I would have bought so much more but knew we didn’t have any more room in our luggage. Balloons are available for purchase with cartoon characters and animals for 20 AED, which is about $5.50, again much better than Disney’s prices ($12/balloon).IMG_3369Even if you aren’t into culture or travel, but love trying food from around the world, then Global Village is a must-see for you as well. Just about any kind of cuisine you might have a taste for is available to purchase. They offer 18 restaurants in the food court where you can sit and enjoy your meal and over 100 food kiosks to grab food and eat while you wander the village. Arrive hungry and plan to eat a lot of delicious food, because you will be pleasantly surprised at how good it is! We hope you enjoy Global Village as much as we did on your next visit to Dubai. We cannot believe that more people are not talking about it, since it was our favorite thing we did in Dubai hands down. Have you ever seen anything like Global Village anywhere else in the world? If you liked this post and want to get our tips to travel like a millionaire, please sign up for our email newsletter and RSS feed.

About Bertaut & Alexis

Global Village: Dubai’s version of Disney’s Epcot Center for only $4
Travel addicts and proud parents of two young kids who make exploring the world a priority while working full time. Bertaut & Alexis enjoy traveling like millionaires without spending a fortune and share their tips on how to get luxury for less.

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