The Gulf leisure hub of Dubai is braced for a month-long shopping bonanza starting Thursday, March 1, that will feature world sporting events, concerts by international stars and more than $20 million worth of prizes.
The March 1-31 Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), now in its sixth year, will kick off with a huge fireworks display and "surprise" festivities on the creek that divides the city.
Jewelers in the self-styled "City of Gold" have pooled together to offer a 24-carat kilo (two pounds) of gold in lotteries to be held every night of the annual festival, as in past years.
Scores of luxury cars are also up for grabs, with lottery tickets handed out to shoppers, as well as $27,400 scholarships offered by DSF organizers, plane tickets and stays in five-star hotels in 10 cities around the world.
Apart from the lure of consumer bargains and dream prizes, visitors are to be treated to entertainers such as the Iranian diva Googoosh and Lebanon's Fairouz. The evergreen Tom Jones was to make an early start with a concert Wednesday night.
In the sports arena, golfing superstar Tiger Woods is already in town for the $1.5-million Dubai Desert Classic from March 1-4 and the Dubai ATP men's tennis tournament winds up on Saturday.
Towards the end of the festival, on March 24, Dubai will host the world's richest horse race meeting, the $15-million Dubai World Cup.
The shopping extravaganza attracted a record 2.5-million visitors in 2000 and unprecedented sales of $1.17 billion, more than eight percent of GDP in the emirate of 850,000 residents, organizers said.
A partnership of government and the retail and tourist sectors organize the festival, which also includes hundreds of sideshow events such as fashion shows, daily fireworks and a giant carpet sale. — (AFP, Dubai)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )