Open your heart and mind as a theme park for all ages takes you on a journey around the world in a day. Fun, thrills, food and adventure is all on offer at Global Village in Dubai at a family-friendly self-contained attraction that is worth the journey to the outskirts, away from all the usual tourist attractions.
What is Global Village? As the name suggests, it is a multi-cultural theme park with a carnival, shows, rides, shopping areas and an eclectic taste of different countries, all under their own pavilions. Each country has its own bazaars, food and attractions presented on a grand scale. There are cultural items on display and available for purchase, tastes from all around the world and the sights, sounds and smells of a variety of colours from every culture. Global Village truly is a celebration of our differences in the best possible way. On arrival, you get the sense this is an alternate Disneyland-type theme park where you’re spoilt for choice of which park you want to venture into, only to discover that it’s so much more than that. It’s a cultural feast which would be more at home in an Aladdin story as it takes you away to lands far away yet in close proximity to one another. If the strip of Las Vegas showcases the world, then Global Village is a halal-alternative which highlights how you can explore the continents and their delights without compromising your beliefs. The attraction has a host of countries represented and regularly add more but a handful of highlights include Italy, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, India, China, Russia and others too numerous to mention.
There are live shows and concerts on offer too, with everything on offer from magic shows and music to Bollywood dance performances and kids entertainers. These vary by season, so it would be worth checking in advance what’s on before travelling in order to plan ahead. One unmissable attraction is the spectacular Aqua Action Stunt Show, which has cars and motorbikes speeding along, roaring into action alongside some gravity-defying jetskis making you feel like you’re watching your own personal Fast and Furious adventure from a safe distance and with real vehicles. Under the guise of filming action scenes, performers pull off thrilling stunts which include LED cars, chases, some impressive water chases and more.
There’s also the House of Fear, a haunted house for those feeling brave which is a lot of fun and adds to the interactive nature of the attraction. Aside from things to watch, there are an assortment of rides, a carnival, circus and all the fun of the fair at Fantasy Island, which is home to a carousel, a ferris wheel and every ride you could hope for at a unique location that allows you to take in international delights. The carnival offers prizes for winning at smaller games and you are spoilt for choice in terms of activities, be it a simple shooting gallery or the more adventurous Beijing Bungee, there’s something for everyone. The circus hosts a show that takes you back in time to when thrills were delivered through death defying stunts, aerial acrobats and visually arresting feats that highlighted skill and talent. You’ll find treats such a Russian Wheel of Death, tightrope walkers and Colombian Clowns all at the ready to take your breath away within the circus.
There are over 200 restaurants offering mouth-watering delicacies and dishes to whet your appetite and suit every palate. Decently priced Italian, Indian, Pakistani, Turkish and Egyptian food was available within moments and you can let your nose lead the way for a satisfied stomach.
Every culture’s food is represented so whether you’ve a hankering for a hot dog, got the munchies for a delicious dim sum or want to gorge on aloo parathey, you’ll find it all at the right pavilion. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and break up meal times so that you can enjoy a few speciality dishes while snacking throughout the day on smaller offerings. We’d recommend the Malaysian, Thai and Egyptian food which was light and worked as in-between fillers before heading to main meals that replenish all the calories you’ll burn from walking around and having your heart racing due to the rides and shows.
During our visit, we were pleased to see the Railway Market, a dessert-lover’s paradise. The Railway Market has 14 train carriages, hosting over 30 vendors of sweets, ice-cream, pastries and confectionaries. With everything from bubble tea and treats to egg-waffles and ice cream, this food train is definitely a delight for those looking to satisfy a sweet tooth.
The dedicated rides areas can get busier and prices were a little steep, working out to £50 for 5 rides. The House of Fear was fun and is essentially a haunted house experience taking place in the dark with performers scaring you at every corner for a spooky ten minutes. There are various scenarios such as a cemetery and hospital ward, where you venture through unaware of what lurks in the dark, only to have your breath taken away by a scare at perfectly-timed moments thanks to robotic animatronics intertwined with performers. Recommended for those 10 and over, visiting the House of Fear after dark is a scare you give before treating yourself to ice cream for surviving the experience. The log flume was also fun but with water parks such as Wild Wadi and Atlantis in Dubai, you’re better off focusing on what’s not on offer elsewhere to make the most of your visit.
“Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” has a strong presence at Global Village and with its eye-catching sign and giant balloon, it’s difficult to miss. Similar to its experiences elsewhere, Ripley’s is full of immersive experiences which aim to dazzle the senses and mind. From a wooden Ferrari and a megalodon mouth to a 4DX theatre and mind-bending vortex tunnel, Ripley’s will show you sights you’ve never seen before. The mirror maze is a highlight, with an array of reflections in over 100 mirrors, complete with water effects, LED lighting and sound effects in addition to augmented reality, it allows a look within that reflects the outward self in as Ripley-esque way as possible, culminating in photo opportunities. This odditorium is worth a visit and designed to unnerve and delight at the same time by presenting the unique.
The family-friendly and halal-nature of everything was a bonus of this attraction. There were lots of families visiting, the rides and atmosphere catered to all ages and when the adhaan (call to prayer) was pronounced through speakers, there was quiet as people stopped to pray. There were also no queues for the food, which meant more time for exploring after eating, ensuring that children could fill up, replenish lost energy and go forth and enjoy once more.
Entry tickets are reasonable at £4-£5 each and with over 8000 people there on the Wednesday we visited, it is a popular attraction but is well-managed. The only drawback (if there is one) is that it is quite a distance from Dubai’s main hotspots and hotels, meaning if you’re travelling to Global Village, then that is all you’re travelling for. The taxi cost to reach there from Jumeirah and head back was 300 dirhams, so at a cost £75 plus entry fee and rides, costs can soon add up.
Overall, the experience at Global Village is a highlight and the attraction stands like a jewel of Dubai that celebrates its visitors and where they come from as well as the world at large. There is nothing we could fault about what was on offer or the experience and with friendly staff throughout the pavilions, reasonable food prices and a whole host of things on offer to see, do and experience, Global Village is most definitely a strongly recommended attraction to visit. Simply put, if you’re in Dubai, it’s one of the best things for a Muslim tourist to do.
Explore the world, appreciate the different cultures and discover a variety of sensations for your mind, body and soul, planning a day of food, fun and shows. It’s what Sociable Earth set out to do and we found most of it available at Global Village. A recommended trip with the family that you’ll remember for a long time and want to visit again.