Expats in Dubai celebrate with real live Christmas trees

Published:  25 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: Moving, USA, Canada, Dubai
Of all the memories of Christmases past, the pine fragrance of a real, live Christmas tree is one of the most evocative.

Expats moving to Dubai could be forgiven for believing a plastic Christmas tree will have to do, but they’re in for a magical moment when they realise the real thing has been available in Dubai for over 25 years! Large-size, fragrant Christmas trees have been imported from Canada and the USA every Christmastime since the 1990s, and are for direct sale from trucks set up in the city’s working-class Satwa district. Expat and local buyers are more than happy to pay from 200 dirhams ($54) for a five-foot tree to as much as 5,000 dirhams for a giant.

According to one retailer, plastic trees are no threat to his once-a-year business as they don’t have the pine perfume of the real thing. However, prices have risen fast over the past year, with a 200-dirham tree now priced at 450 dirhams and sellers immune to bargaining attempts. Retailer Abdul Sanju blames customs duties for the price increases, but there’s far more competition in this annual market than there was 25 years ago.

Sanju doesn’t believe the mega-stores and supermarkets pose a danger to the annual ritual of choosing a real Christmas tree, saying expat buyers come to the trucks to select their favourite after checking its shape, bushiness and the thickness of its trunk as well as enjoying its pine aroma - just as they did during their childhood Christmases back home.
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