I am a big fan of learning about different cultures so one of the best things about living in the Middle East for me is the chance to visit the Dubai Global Village. It’s a multi-cultural shopping bonanza experience with pavilions showcasing cultures around the world.
With typically a carnival like atmosphere, the colors, the sounds are all very captivating. I love just touring the park sampling different food, admiring crafts from different countries and immersing myself in ethnic dances and live music.
Image Global Village, Dubai, UAE. Black Zero via Flickr.
The park has 31 pavilions representing different nation’s from all across the globe. It’s a unique shopping experience which brings a little slice of lots of cultures to the small Emirate of Dubai.
My mind casts back to an eventful visit to the Global Village. It starts with me holding my little brother’s hand as we walked amidst the crowds of people one spring night at the Global Village family park on Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road in Dubai.
We strolled past enormous rides, taking in the delicious aromas of the food vendors, past pavilions devoted to different countries where merchants called out trying to entice us to stop to look at their wares. We stopped to watch a dance put on by performers from the Philippines,
I was entranced by the beautiful costumes and music I had never heard before almost falling into a warm reverie.
Image Dancer at Dubai Global Village. Black Zero via Flickr.
My brother tugged on my arm, bringing me back to reality as he said, “Grayson, come on! We have to get to the dough balls in the Lebanese section before the fresh warm batch is all gone. Come on!”. He was talking about Awamat, crispy dough balls, which are just one of the many traditional and exotic foods found in the park.
Global Village is known for it’s delicious and rare food options that become available to the public, and these Awamat (crispy dough balls) are no exception to the traditional and exotic foods that can be found in this park.
With our crispy date syrup drenched dough balls in hand we set off to explore. We reached a crowd of people huddled around a live performer; it wasn’t long after, amidst the commotion and excitement of the impromptu performance, that a woman hit me with her stroller and my brother’s tiny hand slipped from my grasp.
Image Awamat (crispy dough balls). Ana: via Flickr
I called out his name but could barely hear my own voice above the music and murmur of hundreds of people around me. The panic set in. I started to call out for him at the top of my lungs which prompted a few worried glances in my direction.
I knew how very serious this situation could be if I did not find him in the next fifteen minutes and I expected the worst. I ran up to the nearest park associate, explained the situation in a frantic and hysterical tone of voice and asked for his help.
The poor man was so confused and hardly spoke any English and I did not know a word of Hindi at the time. It was then that I realized due to the evident language that I had really one option frantically try and find my brother myself.
Image Bob Marquart via Flickr.
My head now darting everywhere trying desperately to spot a little blonde head above the throngs of people but he was still nowhere to be found. My heart was pounding and hysteria set in as the minutes ticked by. I was desperate to know if anyone had seen him and so I stopped a group of ladies from Russia and asked them in broken Russian if they had seen a little boy with blonde hair and blue eyes run this way.
They shook their head “no” vigorously and I was close to tears: my baby brother was missing, all alone at night, in a crowded park, 40 minutes from our home in a foreign country and I had no idea where he could be.
I paused and tried to visualize where my energized, candy obsessed seven-year-old brother would go. In that moment I knew exactly where he had run off-honey.
I ran straight ahead past the commotion the same live attraction had caused this emergent and meandered my way through the crowds of people.
I ran past the French, African continent and Chinese exhibits, until I paused in front of a huge castle-like entrance with a sign that read, “The Islamic Republic of Iran”.
(Image Bob Marquart via Flickr)
Sure enough, I looked inside to thankfully see a familiar small head bobbing in the distance running towards our favorite family honey stand. I watched as the man behind the counter smiled and passed my brother honey sample after honey sample.
Relief flooded over me. I sighed looking at the lights, merchants, and beautiful handcrafted goods being sold at this Iranian attraction in the heart of Global Village.
I called out my brother’s name and he turned to face me with the biggest honey soaked smile.
My anger evaporated and a feeling of gratitude that he was safe overwhelmed me. My heartbeat slowed to a normal rhythm as I gave off one last sigh of relief. It really is a small world after all at Dubai Global Village.