Dubai Shopping Festival: Long-time residents relive charm of decades-old fair

"There is something new to see and do every single year," residents say.

By SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 18 Dec 2021, 1:34 PM

Last updated: Sat 18 Dec 2021, 4:21 PM

Be it the fireworks, outdoor markets, raffle prizes or plethora of discounts, the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) always has something to wow visitors.

Introduced in 1996, the DSF has been attracting millions of residents and visitors from around the world. Ever year, people look forward to attending the fair, which proves to be an unforgettable experience for all ages.

Khaleej Times spoke to a few long-time residents, who have delighted in the ultimate shopping and entertainment festival over the years.

A carnival for young ones

The fireworks display at DSF might arguably be the biggest draw for young kids.

Eliane Chalhoub, a Lebanese expat, said her kids eagerly await the DSF so they can catch the fireworks.

"The kids love the fireworks and insist on watching it whenever the Dubai sky lights up," she said. "We always get excited for all the activities in the malls that are fun for the whole family."

Eliane’s husband Tony Farah, who has been in Dubai since 2006, is the general manager of public relations firm and has been involved with DSF for several years. He said one of the reasons why the popularity of DSF increases is because it presents something different each year.

“Even if you have gone to Dubai Shopping Festival every year, there is no reason that you would get bored. There is something new to see and do every single year,” he said.

Alongside activities for children, the DSF hosts fashion shows, cultural events and live shows.

“Every year, I take my kids to watch the fireworks at JBR. This year, we went to the winter wonderland band and we're planning to watch the drone light show, as well,” Tony said.

A get-together season

While it's undeniable that Dubai has several hang-out spots in every part of the city, DSF's limited-edition settings are a major attraction for friends who want to get together for the holiday season.

Abeer, a Palestinian expat and long-time resident of Dubai, looks forward to DSF every year to visit such attractions.

"Earlier, there were only a few activities and we could attend many. But now, there are so many things happening at different locations, so it's hard to decide which to choose," she said.

Aside from enviable shopping deals, DSF also brings celebrities, musicians and artists from around the world to hosts concerts, film festivals, art shows and fashion shows.

On the first day of the festival, Abeer rounded up her friends to attend the concert of renowned singer Balqees Ahmed Fathi at Burj Park in Downtown Dubai.

“And so, it has started, the festival of fun and get-together,” she said.

Attending Balqees' concert also fulfilled a lifelong dream. "It is finally off my list," Abeer added.

Abeer’s friend Laila said they make a schedule to ensure they're able to experience all the new attractions.

"This year, we won't be able to visit every concert and event at the DSF, as we have the mega Expo 2020 and there are lots of events there, too," Laila said.

A heaven for foodies

Foodies, too, can rejoice; there's something to delight everyone's taste buds at DSF.

Shresth Maloo, a food and lifestyle photographer, gets the most shots during the festival.


"DSF has so much to offer, from food, cars, gold, fireworks to something new every edition," he said.

Maloo, a resident of Dubai for the past 24 years, said everyone can gain something out of DSF. "Apart from discounts, people have won a lot in raffles, from gold to even cars, over the years,” he said.

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