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Celebrating Christmas In Dubai

We are celebrating the holidays in Dubai this year so with the time change, it’s officially Christmas already!

When we planned this trip, we weren’t sure what to expect for Christmas in Dubai.  It’s a Muslim country so do they even celebrate Christmas here?  After being here for a few days, the verdict is still out on this one, but here’s what we’ve seen so far.

The hotels are decked out with Christmas trees, classic Christmas decor, and holding special holiday lunches and dinners.

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(Christmas decor in the Burj Al Arab’s atrium.)

(The huge Christmas tree in our hotel lobby)

(The huge Christmas tree in our hotel lobby.)

One hotel even created a winter wonderland complete with snow, activities for the kids, and a small row of shops set up to mimic the European Christmas markets.

(This is a partial view of the Winter Wonderland at Madinat Jumeirah.  We came back a few hours later and this place was bumping!)

(This is a partial view of the Winter Wonderland at Madinat Jumeirah. We came back a few hours later and this place was bumping!)

We strolled through Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping mall in the world, today and aside from one Christmas display in its atrium, the Christmas spirit was minimal.

(Of the handful of atriums in the Dubai Mall, only one had a Christmas -related display.)

(Of the handful of atriums in the Dubai Mall, only one had a Christmas-related display.)

There weren’t big “SALE” signs plastered across store fronts like what you’d see in the U.S.  There weren’t shoppers frantically running through the mall doing last minute Christmas shopping. There weren’t gift wrapping centers set up.  There wasn’t a wreath in sight.  There were no lines.  And there was definitely no Santa waiting for photo ops with kids.  Walking through the mall, it could have been any other day.  The one difference, however, is the mall (and other malls) are open extra late for the holidays.  Yep, in this Islamic country where Christmas doesn’t appear to cause much fanfare, it does precipitate long store hours.

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You could literally shop ’til you drop ’til Christmas and beyond in Dubai.  It’s a shopaholic’s paradise!

It’s also the perfect escape for anyone who’s looking for Christmas day options beyond going to the movie theater (not sure about where you live, but theaters seem to be the only thing open in the U.S. on Christmas day) since nothing is closed!  Leave it to Dubai- the city known for being the biggest, tallest, craziest everything to even keep things open and buzzing through Christmas.  Maybe they have so much money here that they need the extra day and hours to spend it!

Speaking of their outdoing us… when Mr. T and I came back to our hotel room today, we found this pleasant surprise on our coffee table.

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Our hotel gifted us with this unexpected display that included fruits, cookies, popcorn, a candle, champagne, and a cake made to mimic yuletide logs.  I’ve stayed at hotels for over ten years and have never seen a hotel gift a guest with this much stuff.  We couldn’t believe it!  I’m still not sure if they gave it to all their guests or we somehow got lucky.  Either way, a big thanks goes out to the staff at the Grosvenor Hotel.  I guess Santa does come to Dubai!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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