Abu Dhabi: Mention the Global Village and Dubai’s annual fair attracting thousands of visitors from across the world immediately comes to mind.
But now Abu Dhabi also has its own version of the Global Village.
The Six Continents Festival organised by the Abu Dhabi Municipality at the Khalifa Park and running until March 31 is attracting local residents in hordes. “We are happy to have something like this in our city,” said Mohammad Sulaiman, an Emirati who lives in Baniyas.
He said his family has already been to the Global Village in Dubai and is keen to visit the venue in Abu Dhabi. “You cannot compare the two. However, this festival is special for us as it is the first time we have pavilions from different countries at Khalifa Park,” said Sulaiman who works for a government entity.
Six Continents is a modest version of the opulent pavilions and entertainment jamboree that is the hallmark of Dubai’s Global Village. But that is not stopping Abu Dhabi residents from flocking to their own festival offering a host of retail and entertainment options for the whole family.
This debut year, the festival has pavilions from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey showcasing furniture, food items, readymade clothes, perfumes, curios, pickles, toys and other items.
However, the UAE pavilion selling local items, footwear from India and readymade garments from other countries is a favourite.
For foodies there are kiosks selling Egyptian fatayer and Turkish coffee, not to mention popular fast-food outlets.
The Six Continents Festival treats visitors to a distinctive line-up of entertainment shows and heritage programmes that blend various cultures of the world. For kids there are a number of rides at the mini entertainment zone called Fun City. Popular cartoon characters entertain youngsters and kids can have their photographs taken with them.
Filipino mother Karol Smith said the festival is a good option for people like her who do not drive. “I do not have a car and it is very expensive to hire a cab and go to Dubai’s Global Village. A taxi ride costs me just Dh25 from my house to the Khalifa Park,” said Smith, who is an office administrator.
She said she will visit the festival again with her two kids ages five and seven. “They can play in the park or go for rides in the entertainment zone while I indulge in shopping.”
But some residents were disappointed that not all pavilions were fully operational. “I wanted to buy Yemeni honey, but the Yemen pavilion was closed. I was hoping to pick up some items at cheaper prices here,” said Frank Augustine, an Indian expat.
When XPRESS visited the festival, the Indian pavilion was also closed.
The reasons for the closure are not known, but retailers from other pavilions say business has been good. “We see bigger crowds on Fridays. I am happy with the business I am doing out here,” said Mohammad Haneef, who has a textile shop called Muskan in the Pakistani pavilion.
The Six Continents Festival is open daily from 4 to 11pm on weekdays and 3pm to midnight on weekends through March.
Entry is free.