By Suchitra Steven Samuel

Welcome to One World, One Family, One Festival. Welcome to Dubai, the Shopping Paradise. Entertain yourself with hundreds of options. Go for a dash of culture, custom and tradition. Then, perhaps drive and laugh as you collect your winnings from the bank.

Dubai Shopping Festival has set the mood for a magical extravaganza with countless events, raffles, shows and entertainment programmes this year. Look around. Innumerable lights, myriad ribbons and flags have heralded a festival atmosphere. The city never sleeps. The lit motifs — stars, globes, musical and floral notes, all symbolise the DSF theme, ‘One World, One Family, One Festival.’

Dubai Carnivals, the vibrant and colourful face of DSF, is an all-out display by various performers — jugglers, stilt walkers, unicyclists, and musicians — who showcase the festive feeling of DSF across Dubai. The carnivals, with hundreds of performers, grace the malls on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Hold your breath. Shopping deals are everywhere, packed with a bonanza of prizes transforming some lucky ones to millionaires overnight. The Lexus Mega Raffle of Dh200 entitles you to a dream opportunity to take home a Lexus LX570 and Dh100,000 in cash every day for 32 days of DSF. Why not try your luck by pooling with your friends? The Nissan Grand Raffle is giving away shoppers this DSF the chance to drive home a Nissan SUV every day.

Add a little glitter to your life. The Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group promotion is back giving away prizes worth millions during the 32 days of DSF. Every gold shopper has the chance to take home gold and cash prizes. ‘Bag of Fortune’, the 32-day mega campaign that started on January 20, offers gold lovers a chance to win 21 kilogrammes of gold worth Dh3.5 million through raffle draws.

If you are a resident 
expatriate and want your near and dear ones back home to witness the wonders staged in Dubai, just bring them along on a visit visa. It’s easy and rewarding, too. Airlines flying into Dubai are offering competitive fares and packages during DSF. Emirates has teamed up with beach and city hotels to offer a free-night stay during the festival. Book a four-night stay and you will receive one night free.

Al Rigga, Al Seef, 
Jumeirah Beach Residence, and the Burj Khalifa Boulevard have a variety of entertainment events throughout DSF. These streets reflect the spirit of DSF hosting several thrilling activities suitable for the whole family.

If you are an animal lover, there is a treat for you, too. The Dubai Dolphinarium has exclusive shows during DSF for children.

Carpet Oasis is an attraction for those who have a penchant for not only carpets but culture and history as well. Carpet lovers can evaluate the value of carpets on sale, attend workshops on carpet production and take a decision to buy from a selection of handcrafted carpets. Innovative features have been introduced in this year’s month-long Carpet Oasis. So remember to visit the West Hall of Airport Expo.

For the sporty smarts, Gulf Bike Week (February 10-12) is being organised in partnership with DSF 2011 at Dubai Festival City. It is the Middle East’s only dedicated Bike Festival that showcases the very latest in sport bikes, cruisers, off road and all terrain vehicles. Apparels, accessories, custom-designed bikes and motorcycle-related products will also be showcased as well as major international lifestyle brands from Europe, the USA and Asia. Highlights of the event are concerts by Amy Winehouse and Farell Williams.

The DSF Desert Camp is a getaway from the city and a return to nature. Organised throughout the festival period, you have the option of renting tents for days or choosing from the endless number of activities designed for outdoor enthusiasts.

Attractions include camel rides, quad bikes, and horse riding, in addition to barbecue facilities and an exclusive food court. Those of you who would like to indulge in a bit of shopping will even find a souk selling traditional clothes, handicrafts and other locally-made products. Children can look forward to a kiddy rides zone and an inflatable zone. If these weren’t enough, the camp stages entertainment shows throughout to provide a real memorable outing. The camp is open to those who book the tents or just visiting for a day of pure excitement.

And fashionistas, do not miss ‘Creations’ (February 10-20) at Dubai Mall. ‘Creations’ aims to establish Dubai as the hub of fashion. The event will launch the city’s and the region’s emerging fashion talents while established 
designers showcase their latest collection.

Acclaimed traditional singer, composer and a living legend of Persian music Ustad Mohammad Reza Shajarian is set to perform on February 17 at the Sheikh Rashid Hall in Dubai World Trade Centre. If classical music is your cup of tea, then go for it.

Meanwhile, take time off to visit the Global Village. It’s a community event where cultural interaction and the spirit of sharing come alive. With every DSF, the Global Village too has grown. It began as a small event on the shores of the Dubai Creek next to the Dubai Municipality headquarters. Today, its home sprawls across a massive 17.2 million square feet of land and is a beehive of activity during DSF.

What gives the Global Village its distinctive flavour is the coming together of various country pavilions in one location. There are fun events to please all age groups, so the whole family can enjoy the festive atmosphere. Along with street parades, amusements, fun and games, it manages to capture the spirit of an international marketplace. So, if you’ve not experienced at least some of these events, put on your walking shoes and enjoy the sights and sounds of this great city before February 20 when the curtains will fall on DSF 2011.