The Pavilions of the GCC: A Cultural Experience of Arab Folk Heritage at Global Village

Story dated:Tuesday March 28th, 2017,05 44:am

Across a cultural journey that has lasted for more than 20 years at Global Village; the region’s leading multicultural festival park, the pavilions of the Gulf countries have captured the interest of guests due to the various offerings that reflect the cultures of its people. This season, five of the Gulf countries have individual pavilions in which they showcase their country’s heritage and culture.

UAE pavilion:

The UAE pavilion at Global Village is an embodiment of the country’s rich heritage and culture as well as a reflection of its bright future. The pavilion’s exterior facade symbolizes the country’s heritage and includes the ‘Baragil’, traditionally built into the Emirati home as part of its structure, which was used for ventilation and temperature cooling purposes.

Further exemplifying Emirati traditions and heritage, the pavilion is filled with incense and oud-based perfumes, something that’s considered to be at the heart of Emirati culture.

The pavilion features a wide range of locally made products such as traditional clothing, ranging from the ‘bisht’ for men and  colourful, embroidered  ‘jelabiyas’ for women; to locally produced food items such as dates and honey.

One of the most interesting features of the pavilion is a museum that represents the typical architecture of the ancient times, highlighting the construction of houses of the olden days. The central display also features the traditional Arab-style seating area, known as a ‘diwaniya’, which comprises of multiple pillows made from cotton and wool.  The museum also features the traditional Emirati stone house, called the ‘Beit el Safa’, which was built as a summer residence in the mountain regions of the UAE. The unique building structure is made of stones without the use of any other material, along with a thatched roof made from mountain trees known as ‘Asbaq’. The heritage experience at the museum also features a special home called ‘Bait al Shaar’, which is the house of the Bedouin and made from sheep wool. It is a shelter where the Bedouin relaxes, and the size of the shelter as well as its contents was a reflection of the status of its owner in the Bedouin community.

Qatar Pavilion

This season, the Qatar pavilion’s façade is very unique as it’s inspired by the Qatari Islamic Centre known as ‘Fanar’, and is unique with its spiral structure, which looks like the well-known minaret of Samraa, and is a world class institution that introduces Islam as a way of life.  A falconer greets guests at the pavilion’s entrance with a falcon on his arm, and attracts large crowds of different nationalities who are curious to learn more about Falconry.

The pavilion is considered to be a window into the rich Qatari heritage, and merges between the traditional and modern transporting guests to the ‘Wakef’ souq which is considered to be one of the most famous souks in Qatar. The pavilion showcases a wide range of Qatari products such as oud and incense, as well as traditional clothing and accessories in addition to a variety of local sweets.

The Qatari perfumes are some of the best products at the pavilion, and Ahmed Khalil al Zoubi, from the ‘Souk Al Hawameer’ stall said that they have been participating in Global Village for the past ten years.  Ahmed Khalil al Zoubi added “We have a lot of loyal customers from the GCC that amount to 70% of our clients because our products are of the highest quality from Qatar and contain 76% of natural oil. Our stall also offers special deals exclusively for the guests of Global Village. We also receive guests from other nationalities, especially Russians. The miska-fragranced perfumes are very popular, along with our light oud fragrances, known as ‘Sheikh Abdullah’ that is made from Cambodian oud and doesn’t stain on clothes.”

Besides fragrances, guests can also indulge in traditional Qatari sweets that are available at the ‘Dareen Sweets’ stall, which offers delicious cakes in addition to coffee blended with cardamom, saffron and clove; giving it a very unique taste.

Bahrain Pavilion:
The exterior façade of the Bahrain pavilion at Global Village is inspired by the gates of the Fort of Bahrain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The products showcased at the pavilion range from daily wear to textiles, incenseand accessories, in addition to foods and pickles and spices.

The pavilion stands out in its offerings for women’s clothing, ranging from casual to formal dress.

Nora Wazen, a designer and shop owner at the pavilion, says that she has been at Global Village for 15 years, and offers the traditional Bahraini dress of ‘Thoub Al-Nashl’, which is considered to be a staple of the Bahraini woman’s wardrobe. It’s a semi-transparent overdress, made from fabrics such as chiffon or silk and lavishly decorated with gold and silver thread.  Additionally, the designer makes accessories which are a part of the Bahraini bridal and formal wear.

‘The ‘Mortaasheh’ – the traditional Bahraini bridal accessory, is considered to be one of the most important accessories a Khaleeji woman wears,” said Ms. Wazen. “It is a type of necklace that comes in many different styles, some go down to the belt area and come in the form of freely moving chains as a body chain while others have a design of strung chains and appear to be one piece”.

“I’m very happy to say that my stall has been doing very well and is very popular among visitors of Global Village” said the shop owner, “I think people are attracted to new designs and products that teach them about different cultures.”

KSA Pavilion:

The KSA pavilion at Global Village is one of the biggest and oldest pavilions that have been at Global Village since its very first season. During this 21stseason, the KSA pavilion’s exterior façade is modeled and inspired by the historic ‘Al Bujairi’, quarter, located north of the capital Riyadh. The pavilion exterior is also decorated with phrases of poetry that can be found on the Saudi flag.

The pavilion host’s a museum of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) which shares details on his life with guests who visit it. The pavilion also showcases traditional handicrafts made of palm fronds – these products such as woven baskets and traditional trays known as ‘mjwalah’ are used for serving dishes.

Visitors to the pavilion will also find  products such as dates, honey, incense and perfumes, in addition to traditional male and female clothing such as ‘bishts’ for men and ‘abayas’ for women.

The pavilion also hosts shops that sell furniture and home décor. Abdullah Abdu-Mohammed, manager of the shop  ‘Shiraz Carpets and Antiques’ shared that he offers custom-made furniture after the clients choose the design they wish to purchase. He then sends that design to his workshop in the KSA to be made there. “Of course these things take time, so we deliver the furniture to the clients only after the season at Global Village is over”, said Abdullah Abdu-Mohammed.  He went on to add “Our sales have gone very well this season. Global Village was a great place for me to venture into the UAE market.”

Kuwait Pavilion:

The exterior façade of the Kuwait pavilion is an embodiment of modernity and heritage as it reflects the relationship between the people of Kuwait and the sea through the façade’s shades of blue. The pavilion’s entrance features depictions of the skyscrapers that decorate the capital city’s skyline, known to be the landmark of the country and a symbol of its prominence and modernity.

The pavilion hosts a museum at its center which takes guests on a journey between the past and the preset by featuring large-sized cut outs of the country’s most recognized buildings along its walls. At the center of the pavilion grounds lies a Bedouin tent which represents the culture of the Kuwaiti people and replica of the ‘boom boat, a traditional Arabic sailing vessel used for sailing the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula.

The pavilion’s interior is modeled after Kuwait City’s ‘Souq Al Mubarakeya’ the popular traditional market which has been around for at least 200 years. The pavilion stalls depict the shops present in the souq such as ‘abayas’ and ‘gelabiyas’,  while also offering accessories, fine oil perfumes, incense and oud, and different sweets.

All the GCC pavilions at Global Village host cultural shows presented by professional folklore artists and performers at each pavilion’s respective cultural stage, to showcase their culture and customers.

During its 21st season, Global Village is representing more than 75 countries across 30 pavilions.

Global Village will continue to provide a unique shopping, food, and entertainment experiences to its guests every day until April 8, 2017.  Global Village’s opening hours are from 4 pm to 12 am Saturday to Wednesday and from 4 pm to 1 am on Thursdays and Fridays in addition to public holidays.