23 June 2004

Summer Surprises

Every year there is an exodus from the Gulf. Everyone who can leaves town as temperatures get stinky-hot and humidity rises. In Saudi-Arabia the whole government moves to Jeddah by the Red Sae to get away from the heat. The Dubai the municipality decided to do something not only to keep people here, but to get more tourists to visit despite the crazy weather.

Summer Surprises have taken place in Dubai for a few years now and this year they are bigger than ever. The papers carry a lot of advertising and schedules of events, most of which take place in shopping malls, and the figure of Modhesh, the worm who is the mascot of the festival, appear at every street corner.


Modhesh, the Summer Surprises mascot, at Clocktower Roundabout

The festival is divided into themed weeks; there are Art Surprises, Water Surprises, Science Surprises and even Ice Surprises. It is billed as an event to entertain the kids during their summer holidays, to keep them out of mischief.


The biggest venue is located at Airport Expo with three large halls dedicated to Surprises in the halls normally housing staid trade fairs. After all the publicity and excitement we decided to go and have a look. This week the theme was Ice Surprises, a rather incongruous theme for Dubai in mid-dummer. There were lots of kids' rides and huge fibreglass models of local landmarks covered in snow, and a toboggan ride featuring real cold snow. And an area had been set up so that kids could throw snow balls at each other. Unfortunately the rule was for kids only, adults weren't even allowed if they were children at heart.



So we decided that if you had a gaggle of small children driving you crazy, Summer Surprises would be just the thing for you, whereas if you were just the average immature adult, you had better leave the country for cooler climes.

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