Dubai Shopping Festival offers a world of choice

Mementos from many countries selling at fair on Al Seef Street throughout shopping festival

15:09 January 7, 2013

Dubai: A new attraction, World of Souvenirs, is running throughout the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) on Al Seef Street until February 3.

Stalls are selling souvenirs on the creekside walkway. Participating countries include Africa, China, India, the US, the UK, the UAE, France, Brazil and Turkey.

However, not all the countries are equally represented in terms of the number or variety of souvenirs, some visitors said.

“Some of the stalls are just selling things like iPhone covers, watches and jewellery. They mostly have coffee cups and T-shirts with the name of the country on it — that’s not what real souvenirs are about,” said a Pakistani procurement officer from Sharjah. “In the Brazil stand, they have souvenirs from Mexico. China is selling UAE figurines like the Burj Khalifa while France is mostly selling Yemeni ornaments such as miniature traditional daggers.”

Meanwhile, souvenir shoppers were spoilt for choice at the African and Turkish stands.

Among the Kenyan mementos, for instance, is a dried-out, pumpkin-like gourd traditionally used to store water. However, DSF visitors can use it as a lamp or vase. With rich hand engravings, the gourd has been fitted with lights or left open to hold flowers or incense. It can also be used as an ornament.

“This is a special item and sells well, both here and at my other stalls in Global Village,” said Kenyan souvenir seller Emma Oduor.

“People get surprised when I tell them it’s a plant, not papier mache or wood. It’s natural and very unique. I sold the bigger ones for about Dh1,200 at Global Village.”

On Al Seef Street, the smaller ones — which are still big enough to hold about 10 litres of water — are priced at about Dh250 per piece.

Another crowd-puller is the Turkish stall. After nibbling at traditional Turkish delight sweets or meat sandwiches there, shoppers can whet their appetite for souvenirs at the handful of back-to-back kiosks.

Among the first knickknacks to catch the eye are Turkish lanterns. These brightly coloured glass mosaics are made by blowing a ball of molten glass into a decorative cast metal cage. Twisting and spiralling as they follow down the ceiling or stand, these lamps today are fitted for light bulbs instead of wicks or candles. They are priced Dh1,000-Dh1,500, depending on the size and artwork of the lamps.

There is also the Turkish coffee set, complete with tiny ceramic cups in copper holders, a copper pot and tray. The small size of the pot and cups, intricately engraved by handmade designs, are not without reason — Turkish coffee is one of the strongest coffees and as such it’s taken in conservative amounts at a time. The colourful sets cost about Dh500 each.

Also, in the Brazil section, visitors can find more Mexican ware. There are traditional shirts, Rebozo shawls and skirts — all handmade from cotton. These garments, mostly for women, are marked by their contrast — strong and boldly-coloured embroidery on a dull off-white base. The shirts and shawls go for about Dh200 per item.

Meanwhile, the US and UK have large models of national icons placed outside their stalls, like the American Statue of Liberty or the red London double-decker buses. However, most souvenirs are items such as fridge magnets or tea cups — for about Dh35 — themed after major cities or landmarks.