Hot seat: Yousif Mubarak

We talk to the chief operating officer of Dubai Shopping Festival office, organiser of Dubai Summer Surprises, and ask how this year’s jamboree is going and what he’s got in store for us next time.

Hot seat, The Knowledge

Dubai Summer Surprises has been on for a while already. How’s it been going so far?
Quite well, DSS 2008 has been slotted to go on for 65 days; we are in the last third of it, and from the initial indications we’ve had we feel that DSS 2008 will be another great success story, but we’ll confirm that when we have final figures.

What is the idea behind the Summer Surprises?
The main aim is to promote Dubai as a leading holiday destination in the region, and the core focus of every edition is to provide the finest summer shopping and family entertainment to the millions of visitors who come to Dubai during the summer.

How did the whole Summer Surprises idea start?
After the extraordinary success that we had with the first two editions of Dubai Shopping Festival in 1996 and 1997, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai directed us to initiate a similar event in the summer. Though it was a difficult, it was HH’s vision that guided us to create Dubai Summer Surprises. Ten years later, DSS is the leading summer event in the region, and HH was right as usual.

Can you tell us what else you have planned?
With all the mega entertainment projects planned for the coming years, we are looking forward to promoting and adding value to this magnificent city by further enhancing the two festivals organised – DSS and Dubai Shopping Festival. Although I can’t divulge more information, I can safely say that we are aiming to be the leaders in the festival industry.

Has it been more successful than other years?
The event is gaining in popularity every year. We started off with 600,000 visitors and Dhs850million in expenditure in DSS 1998. DSS 2007 witnessed 2.1million visitors and an Dhs3.21billion in expenditure, and we expect that the visitors in DSS 2008 will increase by eight to 10 per cent, while the expenditure will increase by 20 to 25 per cent and we’ll confirm that when we have final figures.

Have you got any more big surprises planned – we appreciate if you tell us they won’t be surprises, but could you give us a few hints?
I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise for our visitors and residents; however, I would advise everyone to keep an eye on Modhesh Fun City, our main venue; there are quite a few things happening there.

How does Modhesh get to so many places?
Modhesh is not only a mascot but he’s also bubbly, energetic, and eager to meet his friends. The DSF office organises numerous visits for Modhesh to hospitals, schools, and plans ‘meet and greet’ sessions. Modhesh is able to relate to children in a unique way by caring for them and being with them. Can you tell us anything about what you’re planning for 2009?

Will you be doing anything with Dubai Mall?
The DSF office has laid out initial plans for DSS 2009 but, like I mentioned before, what we present to our visitors will be a surprise until the moment arrives.

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