10 to try: Christmas in the desert

Want to know how to get Christmassy in the desert? Read on .. Discuss this article

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Dubai might be the ‘land of eternal summer’, but don’t let that dampen your Christmas spirit. Let the desert be part of your Christmas celebrations this year. We tell you how...

Make a date advent calendar

You always begin the countdown to Christmas with an advent calendar, so this year, instead of treating yourself to a chocolate for everyday that you strike off, why not fill the calendar with exotic dates and Arabic sweets? From filled dates to date chocolates and date biscuits, you could even try rich and delicious baklava. Give it as a gift – although considering the sticky factor, we suggest you make the calendar from scratch.
Starting at Dhs3 for regular dates, filled dates, chocolate dates and date biscuits. Dhs60-70 for a mixed box at Bateel, Dubai Mall, (04 339 9819). Dhs115 per kg of baklava at Wafi Gourmet, Wafi Mall, (04 324 4433). Dh 29.50 for half a kg of baklava at Spinneys, near Ramada Hotel, Bur Dubai, (04 355 5250).

Decorate a palm tree
As December nears, it’s time to bring out the Christmas decorations. Tinsel and lights are easy to find in Dubai, but finding a real Christmas tree is impossible. You could buy an artificial one and fulfil the festive tradition. But we say Christmas in the desert calls for something unusual. Like a palm tree! Pick up a potted palm from a nursery and get together with the family to decorate your very unusual Christmas tree.
Potted palm trees are available at the Dubai Garden Centre starting from Dhs300, excluding the the pot. Sheikh Zayed Road, (04 340 0006).Plant Souk at Warsan, drive past Dragon Mart on Hatta Road, turn right at the big roundabout, then left at the next roundabout.

Send a greeting from the desert
Now the tree is up and decked out, round up the family and take a snazzy picture in front of it. Snail mail the photo to relatives and friends wishing them ‘Milad Majid’ or ‘A'yaad Meelad Saeedah’ (that would be Merry Christmas in Arabic) as a Christmas greeting. Show them how it’s done in the desert and you’ll definitely have them wishing that they did something different this year too!

Ride Rudolph the red-nosed camel
Since Rudolph obviously doesn’t visit Dubai, we suggest you make do with a camel. Take a bumpy ride on a humped fried and make him look festive with antlers or a red nose. Don’t forget to ask the camel-owner’s permission first before you start dressing up that camel! We bet nobody back home has had a chance to take a ride on Rudolph now, have they?
Dhs400 per person for Camel Trekking including dinner, sheesha and transport, Desert Rangers, (04 357 2233) www.desertrangers.com.

Sing Christmas Carols by a desert campfire
Who says you can’t cosy up by the fireplace, sip hot cocoa and sing Christmas carols with your loved ones? Replace the fireplace with a campfire in the desert and you’ve got yourself a Christmas tradition with a twist. Make it a party, send out invites to your friends beforehand, plan a potluck dinner and get someone to bring an instrument, if you don’t have one yourself already. It doesn’t matter if neither of you can play it, just make sure to brush up on your carols. To see where to camp, click here or contact the organisations below.
Desert Rangers (04 357 2233) www.desertrangers.com Discover Nomad (05 088 53238) www.discovernomad.com Arabian Adventures (04 303 4888) www.arabian-adventures.com Absolute Adventure (04 345 9900) www.adventure.ae.

Make gingerbread camels
Pudding, pies, cakes and more, it isn’t Christmas without baking some luscious goodies (and inevitable mess in the kitchen ...). Stick to tradition; bake some crispy yet chewy Gingerbread cookies. But forget the men and create some camels. Buy camel shaped cookie cutters and icing to decorate the little guy. Gingerbread camels also make for great presents. If you don’t want to send out a whole bunch of cookies, send single cookies with name tags and get really creative with the icing. Or, if you’re not a cheerful baker, just order some custom-made cookies.
Dhs18 per cookie at The Cookie Workshop (05 527 22783) www.cookieworkshop.com/ae.

Build a sandman
There is little chance that the heavens will open up and cover Dubai with a blanket of snow over the festive period, so your chances of building a snowman sit at about nil. Instead, why not hit the beach and make a sandman instead? Decorate him with sunglasses, beach hats or even a bikini. You could even try getting out into the desert to build your sandman, but good luck getting that thin desert sand to stick...

Make UAE flag candy canes
When you think candy cane you think red and white stripes, don’t you? But we at Time Out like to think a little outside the box. We’re thinking of candy cane in the colours of the UAE flag! If you’re a pro in the kitchen, use red food colouring and chocolate and mint flavour to get the right combination. For the ones who prefer to take the easy way out (and we suggest you do this), head over to Hershey’s in Dubai Mall and grab yourself a box of Chocolate Mint Candy Canes.
Dhs19 for a box of Hershey’s Chocolate Mint Candy Cane, 8 pieces per box, Hershey’s Chocolate World, Dubai Mall, (04 339 8113).

Get your skates on
We don’t know how graceful you might be at this, but we think ice skating is definitely a Christmassy thing to do. Get your groove on in a disco skating session or engage in some playful ice hockey. If you’re quite the klutz, you could even sign up for a learn-to-skate session with an instructor. The ice rink at Dubai Mall is a great way to keep you on your toes – or on your behind if skating is not really your thing.
For details, call (04 448 5111) or visit www.dubaiicerink.com.

Laylit Eid, Laylit Eid, Jingle All The Way ...
Take the Christmas spirit to a whole other level by singing Christmas carols in Arabic! Give your Arabic speaking friends or neighbours a call and learn a song or two. Okay, so this might be a little tough but you’ve got nothing to lose. Laylit Eid translates into ‘It’s Christmas Eve’. It even sounds a bit like Jingle Bells.
Watch the song here or check www.lyricsfreak.com for a word to word translation. Type in the song name and choose Arabic as the language.

By Prathima Narayan
Time Out Dubai,

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