Dubai: A shopper's mecca

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The Dubai Shopping Festival 2001, going on now, is a monthlong event that features shopping and prizes such as luxury cars and gold.

Launched in 1996, this annual event has grown by "leaps and bounds," said a spokesman for the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing in Philadelphia.

Last year's festival registered an increase of 8% in visitor attendance over the previous year, with the biggest jump (28%) in participants from Europe.

This year's theme, One World One Family One Festival, has a roster of five-star events.

The highlights of the events are the Dubai Desert [golf] Classic, won by Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, who edged out Tiger Woods for the victory; the Dubai World Cup, a high-stakes horse race with a $15 million purse; the Dubai Tennis Open that will feature some of the top tennis stars, and performances by artists from all over the world.

The festival also features street performers, fireworks, concerts and raffles.

The daily raffle will include drawings for gold bars and automobiles.

Visitors who don't win big at the raffle drawings can expect to find bargains at area stores, markets and malls, which are stocked with tax-free goods.

Prices will be discounted in honor of the festival.

More than 2,500 outlets will participate, offering goods and services ranging from traditional handicrafts to the latest in haute couture.

For shoppers any time of year, Dubai positions itself as a buyers' paradise because of its low duty fees on imports and no tax. It also boasts of a large, 24-hour duty-free emporium at the Dubai Airport that offers a variety of luxury goods.

Among some of the best buys in Dubai are items of gold.

Seasoned bazaar shoppers stand in awe at the size of the Gold Souk, located on the Deira side of the creek that runs through the city.

With more than 400 stalls, it is the largest such market on the Arabian Peninsula and tops any must-see list in the emirate.

Prices for the many gold bracelets, bangles, brooches, necklaces and earrings (in 18-, 21- and 22-carat) are determined by weight, rather than design and craftsmanship.

For additional information on the event and its travel packages, contact the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing.

Phone: (215) 751-9750
Web: www.dubaitourism.com

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