What better way to start the New Year than to enjoy live street entertainment with the family, or go bargain hunting across Dubai's malls?
After ushering in the New Year with fireworks, music and parties, revellers have a whole lot of options: Shopping, food and street performances during the city's busiest and grandest time of the year.
The 20th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) promises all this and more, and based on its track record for the past two decades, its organisers, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), said they will deliver again this year.
The 32-day shopping extravaganza, which will run till February 1, celebrates another milestone this year for being the longest-running festival of its kind in the region.
It has come a long way since it was first announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in August 1995.
"Over the last three decades, Dubai has gained international prominence as the City of Merchant Enterprise. This has been made possible largely by the spirit of trade and adventure exhibited by our trading community. The Dubai Shopping Festival 1996 is a celebration of this event,” Sheikh Mohammed said, when he launched his brainchild in 1995.
Back then, there were just around 10 malls operating in the city. And shopping wasn't the top crowd-puller for Dubai.
Nearly two decades and 19 editions later, Dubai has attracted a total of 56 million visitors throughout all the DSF events, who have collectively contributed Dh145 billion to Dubai's economy.
It now boasts of an average of 4.4 million visitors, spending a total of Dh15 billion. This means they are injecting roughly Dh325,520 per minute into Dubai's economy for 32 days.
That's a far cry from when DSF first started in 1996 with 1.6 million visitors, with generated revenues of more than Dh2 billion.
Organisers credit DSF's success to the strong relationship between the public and private sector in Dubai.
"Today, Dubai enjoys an enviable position on the world map as a result of its thriving retail and tourism sectors and is poised for massive growth and development in the future, under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed,” Laila Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festival and Retail Establishment (DFRE), said.
"The fact that DSF is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and is expected to attract millions of visitors to the city once again is proof enough that Dubai's shopping, tourism and entertainment offerings are truly world-class.”
This year's special theme, ‘A journey of celebrations' includes outdoor events, concerts, family-centric celebrations, leisure and high-fashion events.
Participating retailers have also upped the ante in their promotions this year, among them the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group (DGJG).
"This is one of our biggest promotions ever including the Dubai Celebration Chain, a 22-carat gold chain running 5km or more that gives everyone, and your readers, a chance to be part of history,” Chandu Siroya, vice-chairman of DGJG, told Gulf News.