Dubai Shopping Festival is much more than shopping and entertainment or just showcasing the glitz and glamour of Dubai. As the 18th edition of DSF proves, the festival also focuses on promoting and highlighting various customs and cultures.
At the key DSF destination of Festival Promenade in Dubai Festival City, a dwelling made of tents and surrounded by camels, falcons and desert sand transform the modern cosmopolitan feel of the city into an authentic vibe of the Bedouin lifestyle.
The Bedouin Lifestyle Camp at Festival Promenade aims to give the city folks a glimpse at the food, costumes, music, dances, handicrafts, folklore and heritage of the participating countries surrounding the Arab region that also have desert nomadic groups. These countries include the host UAE, Yemen, Jordan, Mauritania, Egypt, Morocco, India, Kenya and the Touareg.
Each participating country has tents which reflect the country’s history in its decorations and exhibits, with the falconers, camel herders and the ladies all ready to interact warmly with visitors and explain to them the nuances of Bedouin history and traditional life in the region. At the UAE camp, a group of ladies can be seen cooking traditional Emirati food and another weaving traditional cloth the way they did in their desert life. In the Touareg tent, women show off their friendly and good-natured camaraderie with their traditional dances to the accompaniment of drums.
The Indian camp, on the other hand, has decorated their tent with their colorful accessories and costumes. Also to look out for is their puppet shows, revealing an entertaining side of the Bedouin’s life. Meanwhile, the Yemeni men present their cooking skills as they dish out the secrets of making the traditional ‘salta san aniya’, a traditional Yemeni food made of lots of rice, meat, potato, tomato and various spices which are cooked together for about three hours.
Jordanian, Egyptian and Moroccan representatives get to display their costumes and traditions by sharing live performances on a stage at the Bedouin Lifestyle Camp. Moreover, traditional weddings are re-enacted as well at the camp, giving an interesting insight into one of the most celebrated traditions in their cultures. The live shows such as singing, dancing and even acting allow the audiences to understand more the lifestyle of these Bedouins.
The camp is specially decorated to resemble a desert setting with mounds of sand surrounding the encampment. Camels are seen around the camp, together with falconers welcoming guests. The bon fire also keeps the dwellers and the visitors warm during the cold winter nights.
Indeed, visitors get the mirror-image of the Bedouin’s lifestyle in the camp this DSF. The Pakistani couple, Irfan Akbar and Nighat Arfan, said that they had witnessed a great cultural show during their visit to the camp. Irfan shared, “This is a wonderful initiative from DSF because they highlight not only the glamorous and modern lifestyle of the country, but they also pay respect to the traditions and heritage of their people.”
Imam Saheb, an Indian based in Dubai, who was having a quality night out with his son Abdulrahman, found their visit at the camp both educational and entertaining. He said: “It is a learning experience for me and for my child to see the culture and traditions of Bedouins in real life. Before, I only get to know their lifestyle through books and stories, but here we get the chance to witness every essential part of their heritage. Aside from that, we are also entertained by their colorful costumes, delicious food and exciting songs and dances. I’m very glad that I was able to visit this camp.”
Until February 3, the Bedouin Lifestyle Camp welcomes visitors daily from 4pm to 10pm on weekdays, and until 12am on weekends.