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Winter is here! The Ultimate Guide to things to do and places to visit to enjoy winter 2023

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is renowned for its relentless heat, but for those in the know, this country holds a hidden treasure – its captivating winter season. To be more precise, it’s not just captivating; in fact, it boasts the title of the ‘World’s Coolest Winter,’ a label given by the emirates themselves.

The ‘World’s Coolest Winter’ is more than just a catchy phrase; it’s the UAE’s first federal tourism campaign and a key initiative of the ‘UAE Strategy for Domestic Tourism.’ Its primary goal is to showcase the significant landmarks and attractions that set the seven emirates apart from each other while presenting the UAE as a unified destination.

From October to March, this modern metropolis transforms into an outdoor playground, offering a welcome escape from the scorching summer heat.

With daytime temperatures ranging from 14°C to 23°C and clear, sunny days, Dubai’s winter season offers a world of discovery and adventure, where the city’s charm takes on a new hue. From desert safaris to beach picnics, sightseeing tours, and water sports, winter is a dream for adventurers.

And fortunately, the UAE is home to a community of over a million Filipino adventurers eagerly anticipating the winter season. In fact, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) couldn’t help but express their excitement for winter in a “Tanong ng Bayan” or an online poll posted by The Filipino Times.

We asked, “What are you most excited about for the winter season in the UAE?”

One user named Felizze Flores-Navarro said that she’s most excited about winter as a great bonding season with her children.

“We get to bring our kids to the park and beach,” said Navarro.

For Leo Brazil, it’s definitely the cooler weather.

“[During winter, I can] walk outside without using an umbrella and not look like a Dracula who’s afraid of sunlight, especially between 10 am to 5 pm,” he joked.

Another commenter couldn’t agree more, sharing that he looks forward to wearing multiple layers of clothes just to keep warm.

“Yung nagtrabaho kami sa Dubai Safari tapos halos hindi mo na kayang magtrabaho sa sobrang lamig kahit triple na yung suot mo,” said Garylee Rosete.

For some, it’s the idea of sipping chai or hot coffee outdoors without breaking a sweat.

But a chorus of our online readers echoed their enthusiasm for embarking on camping escapades. Many of them expressed that the prospect of connecting with nature is what ignites a spark of excitement within them.

“It’s a major contrast against the city’s skyscrapers. Some may think the desert is just a pile of sand, what’s there to see, but I tell you if you find the perfect spot, you’ll know what I mean,” said one user named Alex.

So, imagine who’s super excited when the Dubai Municipality unveiled its temporary winter camping season to kick off winter? Hands up! That’s right, Pinoys!

Last Tuesday, October 17, the government assigned Al-Awir as its temporary camping site open to the public until April 2024. According to the Dubai Municipality, this initiative is their way to “provide high-quality services to ensure people’s happiness and wellbeing, further supporting Dubai’s goal of being the best city in the world to live and work in.”

Read: Dubai Municipality’s winter camping season begins this October 17

To ensure you have the best camping experience this year, here’s a refresher. If it’s your first time, consider it your guide.

Camping Basics

For a safe and enjoyable camping experience this winter season, follow these key guidelines: First, choose a legal and safe camping spot, adhering to specific rules set by the Dubai Municipality to ensure safety.

Avoid low areas, such as stream valleys or sand dunes, and steer clear of protected areas, private property, and ‘no camping’ zones. You can check out the approved camping spots at the government’s Winter Camp website.

Read: LIST: 8 places to go winter camping in Dubai

Next, pack the right equipment, including essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, mattress, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit. Remember to bring ample food and water while using a portable stove instead of campfires to minimize environmental impact.

Third, prioritize safety by setting up your campsite in a secure location, using generators and tents responsibly, and practicing fire and grill safety. Maintain a clean campsite and dispose of waste properly, carry power banks and your mobile phone, and have the emergency number (999) saved.

Lastly, respect the environment and local culture by leaving natural and historical items untouched and dressing modestly when outside your campsite.

To help you decide what’s the best spot for your ultimate camping trip and equip you with the must-haves, we have a couple more tips waiting for you at the end of this article.

Wait, there’s more!

Camping is not the only thing that Dubai has to offer this winter. Last Wednesday, October 18, another open-air destination has also set outdoor activities in motion as Global Village opened its gates for its 28th season.

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Grand Opening of the Global Village’s Season 28 last October 18, 2023

Believe it or not, Global Village has been Dubai’s go-to winter destination since 1996. It’s a one-stop hub for entertainment, dining, shopping, and thrilling rides, attracting millions of visitors worldwide. From November to April each year, this sprawling multicultural wonderland transforms into a vibrant tapestry of international culture, adorned with a stunning array of pavilions.

“This season, in addition to our amazing lineup of entertainment, our delicious delicacies of dining experiences across 250 different dining outlets, our more than 195 rides, attractions, and carnival activities for the whole family to enjoy,” said Maya Aboul Joud, Senior Marketing Manager at Global Village, Dubai.

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Maya Aboul Joud – Senior Marketing Manager, Global Village – Dubai

This year, the Global Village will be hosting a new laser show, 3D projection, and miniature world. They have also refreshed their railway market and boating market plus added a new stage called the Wander states.

Aboul Joud also believes that their strategic schedules matching the winter season is what makes them well-loved by many visitors.

“It’s a place that will cater to everybody’s interests, and we keep everybody happy. And of course, the weather is great,” she added.

Several other themed parks are opening this winter, making it the perfect time for Filipinos to bring their families for a tour. Among these parks are Dubai Miracle Garden, Dubai Garden Glow, and Zabeel Park. You can also take them to Dubai’s beaches and water attractions.

Gathering Together

Kaye, an Estimator based in Dubai, shared that she specifically waited for winter to begin so she could explore tourist destinations with her family, who traveled all the way from Agusan del Sur, Philippines.

“First time nila, si Mama din kasi hindi pa nakasakay ng airplane, kaya naisipan ko, why not dito sa Dubai na lang sila. Gusto ko din makita ni Caius kung saan ako nagwo-work, always kasi niya tinatanong saan yung work ko. Bakit ako sumasakay ng metro, ano ung metro, gusto ko ma-experience niya para ‘di na siya magtanong,” shared Kaye.

[“It’s their first time here, and Mama hasn’t even been on an airplane before, so I thought, why not have them visit Dubai? I also wanted Caius to see where I work since he’s always asking about it. Why I take the metro, what the metro is, I wanted him to experience it so he wouldn’t have to ask questions,” shared Kaye.]

She mentioned that she took them to the iconic Burj Khalifa to watch the fountain show, Dubai Miracle Garden, and they had a great time at the Night Market.

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Kaye, along with her mom, Marites and son Caius at the Dubai Miracle Garden

Even if you’re not bringing your family here, you can still feel at home as Filipinos gather every night to enjoy good food at pop-up night markets, such as the one in Al Rigga. The organizer of the pop-up stalls, like the night market that Pinoys are used to in the Philippines, is, of course, a Filipino.

When asked why they believe Filipinos automatically patronize the pop-up, Frel Villaflor, Co-Founder and CEO of G&M Events Management, the official organizer of Al Rigga Night Market, said, ‘I think it’s because, apart from this being the biggest and busiest market of its kind in the UAE, it is organized solely by Filipinos, which is why you can truly feel at home. The feeling is different; there’s a connection.

100 stalls will be joining the Night Market in Al Rigga, which is now in its 4th year. If you haven’t visited it in the past, the pop-up market offers a variety of Pinoy food, retail stores, games, rides, and more.

As promised, we want you to make the most out of your winter season in 2023. Here’s a checklist of things you can do to embrace the cold like it never bothered you anyway.

Read: Camping checklist: Top 10 essentials to bring to your outdoor adventure

Screenshot 2023 10 21 at 2.43.22 PM

Read: Beginner’s guide: The do’s and don’ts of camping in UAE

Justin Aguilar

Justin is an assistant editor at The Filipino Times. She was a TV News Reporter for ABS-CBN News where she covered news stories and reports for TV and radio programs such as ANC, TV Patrol World, Umagang Kay Ganda, Bandila, and DZMM Teleradyo. She enjoys capturing people’s hearts by highlighting the excellence of Filipinos in her stories and bringing the latest updates to both OFWs and global readers of The Filipino Times. Want to share your story? Reach Justin on Facebook: www.facebook.com/justinlico.aguilar or send your story at: [email protected]

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