Dubai gets set for summer shopping extravaganza

By Aroonim Bhuyan, IANS,

Dubai : Come June 19 and Dubai will throw open its doors to tourists for its over two-month-long summer shopping extravaganza that will include mega raffle draws, kids’ fashion shows and some great shopping deals.

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Called the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), it is the summer counterpart of the Dubai Shopping Festival. It will run from June 19 to Aug 22 and organisers expect an increased inflow of tourists during the event, which enters its 11th edition this year.

Modhesh, the yellow-coloured mascot of the DSS with its two-foot, accordion-shaped body and cheery disposition, already adorns central points of this West Asian metropolis.

Organised by the Dubai Shopping Festival Office (DSFO) and launched in 1998, the DSS was conceptualised for launching promotional campaigns and hosting family entertainment activities to attract people of diverse nationalities to Dubai through cooperation between the public and the private sectors.

This year the highlights are a mega raffle draw with a 2009 BMW X5 as the bumper prize, four other draws each with a prize money of 100,000 dirhams (Rs.1.16 million) and a new surprise almost every day of the 10-week-long event as against a weekly surprise in previous DSS editions.

“Raffle draws have always been a major attraction during DSS, giving millions of visitors and residents an opportunity to realise their dreams through winning, which is a core characteristic of the summer extravaganza,” said Abdulla Amiri, DSFO operations and logistics manager and head of DSS Raffle Committee.

“The DSS Grand Raffle this year is especially attractive because the 2009 BMW X5 is among the newest cars on the roads today,” he said.

In DSS 2008, the hosts have made the chances of winning raffles higher by limiting the number of coupons per draw. For each draw, only 5,000 coupons will be sold, each costing 200 dirhams (Rs.2,330).

Raffle draws apart, a series of events catering to different age groups are being lined up.

“We have ensured that the events are diversified, innovative, and appealing to every visitor segment,” DSFO general coordinator Ibrahim Saleh said.

“We are embracing new international events in addition to developing our signature events to enhance the festivities this summer,” he added.

“Held in some of the finest malls in the region, the DSS 2008 Signature Events aim to provide a relaxed atmosphere for shoppers by organising exciting and interesting activities,” a DSFO statement said.

There are a number of events that will be held exclusively for kids. Among these is the “World of Stories”, which brings alive the fantasy world of fairytales with actors enacting tales like “Cinderella” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”.

This apart, there is a kids’ fashion show and kids’ Olympic Games.

There are quite a few interesting events for connoisseurs of art too.

In an exhibition called “The Collectibles”, collectors of the region will display their treasures like cars, stamps, coins, photographs and car licence plates.

“Arts Oasis”, organised in coordination with the Dubai Cultural Council, is an opportunity for artistes from across the world to meet some renowned artistes and see their works.

Emirati heritage is presented in an event called “Min Bladi”. Its main attraction will be competitions held to pick the best displays of local food and culture.

Fashion shows, culinary competitions, spa packages and great deals in shopping malls are other highlights of DSS 2008.

The hub of this summer shopping extravaganza is the Modhesh Fun City, dubbed as the “biggest indoor edutainment centre in the Middle East”. The venue is divided into several zones, each dedicated to a specific activity.

“DSS 2008 will see the introduction of new zones in addition to the already existing zones like the Arts and Crafts Zone, Sports Zone, Sand Zone, Lego Zone, Games Zone, Car Driving Zone, Toddler Zone and Heritage Zone,” the DSFO statement said.

Though DSS targets visitors from all over the world, the event draws many tourists from within the Gulf countries.

“We see a lot of intra-Gulf tourist inflow into Dubai during DSS,” a DSFO official told IANS. “That is because the event coincides with the summer vacations in the Gulf countries.”

In the first edition of DSS in 1998, 600,000 visitors spent around 850 million dirhams (Rs.9.9 billion). In 2007, 2.16 million visitors spent around 3.21 billion dirhams.

Organisers say this year’s event is expected to beat all previous records.