Holly Sands tells us why we should love Christmas in Dubai
It’s the end of November and Christmas is starting to infiltrate everything from shopping malls and magazines to restaurants around the city. This is my favourite time of year. Bring out the tinsel, the holly and ‘Santa! Stop Here’ signs; play me the first few bars of Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ and I’ll go spinning into spasms of festive joy. When else can you eat more mince pies than you could count on your fingers and toes, wear multi-coloured paper hats in posh restaurants without fear of ridicule and serve jam as a legitimate condiment for meat without getting funny looks?
Worried it won’t be the same here? Of course it won’t – it will be better, and not least because you’ve saved a fortune on flights. We all know Dubai loves a good superlative, so how could Christmas here not be the ‘biggest and best’? As anyone who’s spent the festive period here can testify, there are hundreds of brunches and heaps of promotions on mulled beverages and eggnog to fuel the merry masses. Heck, my first memory of sitting on Santa’s knee is at Dubai Marine Beach Club back in 1990, and that sure beats a freezing garden centre in a soggy corner of Europe.
There are only two things about Christmas here that I would cheerfully sell my grandmother to see the back of: carolling (it’s just too cringe-worthy, anywhere in the world) and the appalling adverts broadcast by Dubai’s radio stations, with all this talk of being ‘gifted’ various items. It’s a gift, my friends, and unless you’re referring to someone talented, it’s a noun.
But shoddy voiceovers and toe-curling sing-songs aside, Christmas in Dubai is great. If you’re not a big fan of Santa and can’t stand the idea of indoor festivities when the weather is so uncharacteristically enjoyable (Christmas purists, cover your eyes), spend Christmas Day on the beach. It’s a winner for those of you who prefer your toes without frostbite.
The Dubai Mall’s Christmas tree is a worthy opponent for the Burj Khalifa in the vertical stakes, while the vast number of every-colour plastic trees to choose from at Carrefour means you’re bound to find a tree that matches your cushions before you’ve even set foot in the baubles aisle. This city has everything you need to do Christmas properly – so what if the fluffy white stuff all over the window sill came in a can? As the people at Ski Dubai will tell you, just because it hasn’t fallen from the sky doesn’t mean it’s not snow.
All we need now is Satwa’s Al Mallah to start serving a turkey-and-stuffing shawarma and Reem Al Bawadi to advertise plum pudding shisha and we’re away. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a carolling book waiting to be gifted.
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traceycole Dec 01, 2010 05:08 pm
I rememember Christmas Day of long ago in Dubai way back in 1981 before tourism was even thought about in the then Chicago Beach Hotel. No glitzy shopping malls just one little shop on the long stretch of sand where i used to buy my tins of heinz baked beans. Christmas Day spent on the warm washed shores of Jumeirah Beach and the old fashioned spirit of christmas that rang out through the old Dubai - Priceless.