Global Village may not be listed among Dubai’s Top 5 must see attractions as often as the iconic likes of the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab, but it’s a kind of an institution with 20 years of presence! It started in 1996 with small kiosks representing different countries by the Dubai Creek and it now occupies its own area of 1,600,000 m2, representing 75 countries and attracting over 5 million visitors every year! Since it’s an open air attraction and because of the notoriously hot Dubai climate, it only operates half the year, typically between October/November and April.

I had heard mixed reviews over the last few years, mostly referring to it as kitsch, too commercial and not representative of the countries among other things! So this is what I saw when I went there:

So this is what Global Village looks from the outside: Like a Winter Wonderland kind of theme park!

This is what Global Village looks from the outside: Like a Winter Wonderland kind of theme park!

And then you walk in:

So you walk in and you see Britain, Italy, the UAE, China and Egypt next to each other and ready to welcome you!

So you walk in and you see Britain, Italy, the UAE, China and Egypt next to each other and ready to welcome you!

And if you take a closer look, China is a shop. And so are the rest. Of course! It's Dubai after all!

And if you take a closer look, China is a shop. And so are the rest. Of course! It’s Dubai after all!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa inside the Colosseum! Lack of space (in the middle of the desert?) or poetic license? :-D

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is inside the Colosseum! Lack of space (in the middle of the desert?) or poetic license? 😀

Then you turn left and you see a canal with different pavilions around!

Then you turn left and you see a canal with different pavilions around! That’s nice!

The India pavilion was justifiably the largest. Indians form the majority of the population of the UAE. I could hardly fit it in just one photo.

The India pavilion was justifiably the largest. Indians form the majority of the population of the UAE. I could hardly fit it in just one photo.

And this is what it looked like from the inside. Shops everywhere!

And this is what India looked like from the inside. Shops everywhere!

Punjabi dancers performing in the India pavilion adding some culture in an otherwise commercial event.

Punjabi dancers performing in the India pavilion adding some culture in an otherwise commercial event.

Other pavilions included:

Tunisia

Tunisia

Afghanistan

Afghanistan makes for an interesting pavilion, as not many of us will be able to visit it anytime soon…

Thailand was quite impressive!

Thailand was quite impressive!

The UK was a bit weird looking...

The UK was a bit weird looking…

Japan was decent. From the outside. Because inside it was all about shops, shops and shops!

Japan was decent. From the outside. Because inside it was all about shops, shops and shops!

But the award for the ugliest pavilion inside out goes, without a second thought) to Italy! Do you remember the poetic licensed construction of the Pisa Tower inside the Colosseum at the entrance? Well this is nothing like it! No imagination whatsoever here!

But the award for the ugliest pavilion inside out goes (without a second thought) to Italy! Do you remember the poetically licensed construction of the Pisa Tower inside the Colosseum at the entrance? Well this is nothing like it! No imagination whatsoever here!

And this is a stage (!) for cultural performances inside the Italy pavilion! Miserable to say the least!

And this is a stage (!) for cultural performances inside the Italy pavilion! Miserable to say the least!

And this is my favourite: The pavilions have the so called "Heritage Area", where they showcase some of the culture of the country represented. Here it only looks like a joke: A plastic chair, roman statue copies, national costumes, a Carnival mask and scattered olive trees! Italy must be proud! :-D

And this is my favourite: The pavilions have the so called Heritage Area, where they showcase some of the culture of the country represented. Here it only looks like a joke: A plastic chair, roman statue copies, Carnival costumes, a Roman warrior and scattered olive trees! Italy must be proud! 😀

And then France and Germany couldn't decide who will host the 2nd (!) Eiffel Tower of the Global Village, so they decided they'd share!

And then France and Germany couldn’t decide who will host the 2nd (!) Eiffel Tower of the Global Village, so they decided they’d share!

Spain decided it wants to be represented by 2 unusually shaped ships!

Spain decided it wants to be represented by 2 unusually shaped ships!

Malaysia and Singapore decided they want to show the world they're BFFs and used there pocket money to share a pavilion! Sweet!

Malaysia and Singapore wanted to show the world they’re BFFs and used their pocket money to share a pavilion! Sweet!

Qatar doesn't look too bad

Qatar doesn’t look too bad

The all inclusive Africa pavilion!

The all inclusive Africa pavilion!

Entering the China pavilion

Entering the China pavilion

Shops in a beautiful setting! Very China!

Shops in a beautiful setting! Very China!

The "Heritage Area" of China is more decent than the one of Italy for sure!

The Heritage Area of China is more decent than the one of Italy for sure!

Mother Russia looking good!

Mother Russia looking good!

A little bit of Mexico, a little bit of Hollywood with a shot of the Empire State Building, mix and you get an one size fits all american countries pavilion! The detail that kills is highlighted in the photo that follows!

A little bit of Mexico, a little bit of Hollywood with a shot of the Empire State Building, mix and you get an one size fits all american countries pavilion! The detail that kills is highlighted in the photo that follows!

Yes! You're not wrong! It's a Godzilla looking creature on top of the Empire State Building looking facade of the Americas pavilion! I found it so funny! Not sure everyone would find it as funny or of a good taste!!

Yes! You’re not wrong! It’s a King Kong looking creature on top of the Empire State Building looking facade of the Americas pavilion! I found it so funny! Not sure everyone would find it as funny or of a good taste!

A little folklore inside Turkey

A little folklore inside Turkey

Indonesia looking pretty!

Indonesia looking pretty!

And I bumped into the Taj on my way out! Hi there! I'll see you in your natural environment in less than 2 weeks!

And I bumped into the Taj Mahal on my way out! Hi there! I’ll see you in your natural environment in less than 2 weeks!

 

I don’t know what you thought, but I was expecting more tents and less construction. As well as less shops and more food! It definitely is very impressive what they’ve done! I mean even replicating all these monuments is very impressive in itself! The whole thing also looked very family friendly. There’s an area for picnic, activities for children, a funfair and many restaurants.

There were quite a few moments that could have been avoided (the Italy pavilion altogether among other things!)! And there’s no doubt that some of the pavilions were of questionable aesthetics (Americas, I’m not talking about you! You won my heart!)! What I missed the most was more chances to try local delicacies from all corners of the world and  more of a cultural touch. And in case I didn’t make it clear, I missed an Italy pavilion as gorgeous as the country itself! But it was an overall pleasant evening, so if you happen to be around, do pay a visit. The entrance fee at 30 AED (8 USD/7,5 EUR) is not too bad if you’re gonna spend a few hours there. And I’m curious to see what’s it gonna look like next year! I mean, what can surpass the King Kong idea? We’ll have to wait and see!