Being a HUGE fan of Disney’s Epcot park, I was beyond excited to visit Dubai’s Global village after seeing it on TripAdvisor. In my head I had thought it would be a fun, exciting place that incorporates all kinds of cultures and customs. We were so excited when we first entered because all the individual countries looked amazing from the outside, but once you entered each village it was just a disappointment.
We walked through the more Middle Eastern villages first, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. These places were selling things like Arabic honey, Abayas, hijabs, nothing out of the ordinary. It was a little odd that people from Asian countries or India were the ones working instead of natives from the respective country, but most workers in Dubai are expat workers so I could let it go. What I couldn’t get past, however, was the fact that they were selling the same exact items in every single country, even if it made no sense. When we got to France I was so surprised to see that they were trying to sell hijabs and pass them off as French. (There is a big push to ban hijabs in France, and Niqabs are already banned.)
To make matters worse, you couldn’t quietly browse the items for sale. People were very aggressively forcing their products on us. They’d spray perfume at us, cover us with scarves, try to force spoons of honey in our hands. They will yell at you as soon as they see you, and yell more aggressively if you refuse their products. (One guy even made some rude comments to my fiance after he refused the juice they were selling.) What was the worst for me was the racist portrayal of Africa. For all other continents they chose a few countries- for example, instead of just saying Europe they had England, Germany, and France. But instead of naming separate countries they had a section called “Africa.” That’s right… they didn’t even separate it into separate countries.
As if lumping Africa into one super continent wasn’t insulting enough, the products they sold were not clever. They were selling something that I call Aunt Jemima dolls. Basically, they were rag dolls sewn from black fabric with over sized red lips, wild, misplaced hair, and ugly frocks. It reminded me of the racist cartoon ads from the early-to-mid 1900s. Music from African-American artists was blaring from the speakers, although the artists were not from Africa. Just because Beyonce and Sean John are Black does not mean that they are African. Aside from the cultural confusion and racist dolls, Africa did have some of the best items available in the village.
There is a carnival style side of the village including rides, however we were exhausted and didn’t ride anything. All the brochures I had seen advertised cultural dances and activities at the stages, but we must have gone at the wrong time (5 PM) because there were no shows at all, anywhere. Despite the poor quality of the items offered, we did not leave empty handed. I gave into the honey sample and left with a jar as well as a bag of cheap spidermen for Kylee. Dubai Global Village looked so promising from what we had seen, but we both left very disappointed. The admission is very cheap, so if you want to walk around to see the architectures it is worth it. If you are on a tight schedule and have to use your time carefully, I don think I would recommend it.
To learn more about the global village, click here.
Peace Be Upon You,