DUBAI's first international Shopping Festival is being billed as a spectacle that will make even the most jaded sit up and take notice. Its architects are hoping that it will put Dubai firmly on the world shopping map as a venue par excellence. Shoppers can discover an Aladdin's Cave at bargain prices and an unparalleled venue for business and entertainment. Beginning on February 15 next year, the six-week-long extravaganza will provide a glimpse of Dubai as a destination that offers something for everyone. Mohammed Alabbar, of the Economic Department and one of the architects of the festival, is enthusiastic about the event. 'Our people visited Hong Kong and Singapore to see what the popular shopping festivals are all about. 'Almost everyone who had ever participated in any of these events said they tended to be too dry, involving little apart from shopping. 'So, we decided we would host a festival with a difference, one that involved plenty of other activities as well.' The result is likely to be a month-and-a-half-long celebration that will include everything from theatre and musical performances to art shows. 'The details haven't been finalised,' Mr Alabbar said. 'We're still in the process of inviting suggestions. However, one thing is for sure, it will be a spectacular show.' Mr Alabbar's enthusiasm is infectious and seems to have caught almost all of those who work with him. Activity in Dubai's Economic Department, where Mr Alabbar works, is frenetic. All those who frequent its impressive portals are charged with making the show something of which the UAE and the world has not seen before. A competition invites residents of the UAE to offer suggestions and plans for cultural and other activities. Grand prizes will be offered for the best ideas. 'By staging the festival with other major sporting and business events, we have aimed to provide an attractive package of the best of what Dubai has to offer, transforming it into an ideal family destination,' said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Duabi Civil Aviation Department and Emirates chairman. Nine task forces will organise the event. The Economic Department has been put in charge of finance and retail; the Emirates and DNATA are accountable for inbound activities; the Dubai Commerce and Tourism Promotion Board will oversee hospitality; and the Dubai Municipality will be responsible for recreation and decoration. Other departments involved include Dubai World Trade Centre (cultural events); the Dubai Duty-Free (festival bazaars); the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (exhibitions); and police (sports). The festival is targeted at visitors from the neighbouring Middle Eastern countries, Iran and the Sub-continent but it is likely to draw people from around the world. A series of newsletters, 'Festive Times', will be published before and during the event. They will serve as a guide for the venue and profile various activities on the show's agenda. Organisers are hoping that the February fiesta will help revitalise the consumer sector, which is beginning to show signs of flagging. A recent study by the Dubai Economic Department indicated that the event may usher in a 20 per cent increase in retail activity by generating sales worth Dh1 billion (about HK$2.11 billion).