Russia, with its large and lively contingent, seems to be the most awaited of them.
THE Matryoshkas are bound for Dubai. The portly figures that have become Russia's cultural ambassadors, will, in all their matronly splendour, occupy place of pride in the 1,400mt Russian pavilion that debuts at Global Village when DSF kicks off mid-January.
The diminishing-in-size nesting dolls that have for decades parodied life in Russia, will be arriving by the dozens from Moscow, leaving their posts by the curbside near Kremlin, St Petersberg, and the innermost ring roads of the 850-year-old city, where they have been sentinels for years.
It is indeed that time of the year again, when all roads lead to Dubai. And nowhere is this more evident than in the fabulous Global Village.
More and more nations are joining this feisty smorgasbord that is both a culinary and cultural adventure to the remotest, most unlikely places on earth.
Like always, this year too, men and merchandise is coming in from far and wide. From lesser heard of and little visited places around the world. From tiny villages in Ukraine to the town of Gzel that nestles in the Russian mountains, people are ready to travel to a sunny emirate in the Gulf where month-long festivities are in order.
Galina Sidorova, a chandelier designer from Zhostovo, will have her works displayed in Dubai this time. An alumni of the Surikov Art Academy, she designs pieces of art dating back to medieval times. Every piece is hand painted, the designs are copyrighted and the name of the artist written on it. And though Galina may not make it here, her hand painted trays will be arriving in large numbers.
So will porcelain from the town of Gzel. The snow-white and vivid blue art that is famous world over, depicts the life of its nobility in painstaking detail.
From the small township near Moscow where it is made, it is carefully packed and travels to different corners of the world. This January, a consignment of 100s of pieces of ornate porcelain will tell their story at the Global Village where over 75,000 visitors are expected to visit on any given day of the festival.
In just 9 years, this makeshift village by the creek has become the most distinct and peaceful meeting of nations anywhere in the world. This year, 8 new country pavilions are adding girth to its bursting-at-the-seams waistline. These are Bahrain, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Italy, Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Organisers are overjoyed and for Hassan Al Sharif, Assistant Director of the village, more definitely means merrier.
As the most promising new kid on the block, Russia is right now putting in place a mammoth replica of its St Peters Square smack dab in the centre of things. A stunning castle-like effect with towering ornate domes is being constructed right now on the grounds off Garhoud. Things are moving at a quick pace in a bid to complete the pavilion before the cultural dispatch from the erstwhile continent arrives here.
In between doing a dozen other things, organiser, Tatiana Fadeeva gives City Times a lowdown of what to expect here. "Russia will be seen in a new light this year. And all the things we Russians hold close to our hearts will be shared with people from all walks of life. Our aim is to make this represent a walk through the various regions of our vast country. So the visitor will have a chance to sample the famed Tulapryanik cookies - a Russian tea-time favourite; buy silver souvenirs and swords from Daghestan; try on the Pavlovo Posad woolens and Orenburg lacy knitted shawls that were once worn by the Russian Tsars; buy the famed Khohloma lacquered bowls in traditional colours of black, gold and green; knives fashioned from the excavated bones of centuries-old mammoth Siberian elephants and ornate crystal from Dyadkovo," she rattles off almost breathless.
Interestingly, it is for the first time in the 9-year history of DSF that Russia joins the 38 existing national pavilions in displaying a slice of its intriguing history and culture here.
Though late in the day, their decision to join is seen as inevitable. Over 300 5 to 50 year-old performers from the country have been enthralling visitors ever since the first DSF. At street corners, in malls, and in the ever-expanding Global Village.
Things year, things have been spruced up considerably. Though not sponsored by the government, the pavilion has attracted a lot of attention. Especially from Russian companies who have been quick to realise the business potential here.
Says Tatiana. "Our efforts will pave the way for companies to forge business opportunities in the Gulf. Many of them have been long interested in the region but for want of guidance and the right platform, did not venture forth. We are trying to help build bridges here. Of commerce and culture. Of trade and traditions, she says.
This will bear fruit closer to the day, when the large grounds of the village start to fill up. With people of the world. Watch out then for the Russian shepherd with a pipe, the legendary Bogatry warriors, Princess Swan from the Pushkin's Tales, for the burly big bear that is the country's mascot, and for the colourful, well-rounded Matryoshkas. Your journey of discovery begins with them.
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