The 18th Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), the emirate’s biggest annual shopping extravaganza,  will kick off on Thursday at the Dubai Creek Park to offer residents and visitors great bargains, promotions and numerous family-centred outdoor activities and community events.
The 32-day festival, organised by the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (Depe), will live up to its slogan “Dubai at its best” by catering to all the shopping and entertainment needs of visitors and residents from all walks of life.
Organisers said they included many family outdoor activities and community events to this year’s DSF based on public demand.
“Most of these activities are focused on families, our key audience, in line with our universally appealing theme “One World. One Family. One Festival.”, said Ebrahim Saleh, festivals coordinator general of Depe.
This year’s DSF will be held in six main venues in Dubai. Travel back in time and relive the different aspects of the Bedouin desert life in different Arab countries at the new Bedouin Lifestyle Camp at the Festival City Promenade. Catch the DSF Carnival, the all-new “World of Souvenirs” and Tea Oasis on Al Seef Street. Al Rigga Street will host a Sports Zone and a Skill Games area while Creek Park will be the perfect venue for children for the Kids Festival Park.
Visitors will likewise be treated to experience the old Dubai at the Heritage and Diving Village and witness the new Dubai with the newest addition to this year’s festival — the world’s Highest Catwalk at 442 metres at the Burj Khalifa. 
But more than the exciting line-up of family events, what makes DSF appealing to many residents and visitors are the big shopping discounts, promotions, and mega raffles.
“Last year, DSF drew 4.36 million shoppers and total spending reached Dh4.7 billion. We expect DSF 2013 to keep up this momentum and do even better to consolidate Dubai’s status as the region’s leading shopping and entertainment destination,” Saleh said.
This year, more than 7,000 retail outlets have registered for the festival to offer discounts of up to 75 per cent and freebies. Shopaholics will get a chance to drive home 31 new cars from the 12 top models of the Nissan fleet of cars and four-wheel drives.
Shoppers spending Dh1,500 or more on gold at any of the participating outlets will also get a chance to bring home a quarter kilo and a kilo of gold every week. Majid Al Futtaim Properties’ malls, a strategic partner for DSF, will likewise give away a combined Dh1.3 million in Gift Card prizes.
Organisers said a number of government bodies will team up to make this the best DSF yet.
“This year, as we celebrate the biggest edition of DSF so far, all the official bodies involved — such as the RTA, the police, the Dubai Municipality, the health, civil defence or other emergency services — are geared up to extend their support to the festival, whether for transport, to maintain cleanliness or in any and every other way,” Yousuf Mubarak, executive director of the government affairs division of Depe, said. “From the time visitors arrive at Dubai airport, the way they move around the city to access the various entertainment options to maintain the general safety and security, there is a huge team of unsung heroes working behind the scenes to make the festival a success,” Mubarak added.
By Janice Ponce de Leon