Snow Skiing in the Desert! Impossible! Not in Dubai!
By: Habeeb Salloum/Arab America Contributing Writer
The third-largest indoor ski resort in the world, Ski Dubai, opened its doors on December 2, 2005, became the star of Dubai’s ‘Mall of the Emirates’ – the largest shopping center outside of the U.S. It was officially inaugurated, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, by Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Mattoon on November 2, 2005.
Later, on the slopes of Ski Dubai, covered in thousands of tons of fresh snow, VIP guests were entertained by a laser and pyrotechnic show followed by the Flying Ace All-Stars, a group of professional skiers. The skiers performed difficult ski jumps demonstrating the accommodating capabilities of the indoor ski slope which will have a year-round temperature of between -1 and -2 degrees Celsius. “It’s unbelievable that one day a desert storm will hit a snow dome in this desert land” an onlooker walking through Ski Dubai remarked.
Inside this enclosed ski mountain, the skiers, wearing ski boots, gloves, and thermal coats contrasted vividly with the shoppers in the adjoining mall dressed in shorts and sandals. It appeared as if Santa Claus had brought a huge snow mountain south to hot sunny Dubai.
Unbelievably, when people enter Ski Dubai, they walk into a polar bear world of ice and snow in a country wherein summer the temperature, at times, reaches over 50º C. While skiers relish the snow on the inside, others outside will be trying to hide from the searing heat. Both the inhabitants and visitors to Dubai have a new way to keep cool, especially during the hot summer months.
Ski Dubai Snow Park Resort, the first Alpine themed all-inclusive indoor ski resort with the third-longest indoor slopes in the world, has brought this sport of the north to a desert land where 35 years ago no one had ever seen snow. The largest and first complete in-door mountain snow playground in the world, Ski Dubai provides a unique experience on the edge of one of the hottest deserts on the globe. The technological innovations being utilized has placed Dubai at the forefront of indoor winter sports facilities in the Middle East and beyond.
There has been re-created at the Mall of the Emirates, the most exciting retail and leisure complex in the Arab world, an authentic mountain environment with frozen waterfalls, rocky outcrops, tree formations and other features found in northern mountains. Amid these re-created replicas, there is a 3,000 sq m indoor snow play area – the world’s largest – and long ski slopes, the size of three football fields, with varying terrain, featuring five different ski runs, snow-covered hills and a chair lifts – a perfect arena for foreign tourists to snap souvenir pictures of Gulf nationals walking on snow with their Arab headdresses and traditional white robes
Ski Dubai boasts special features such as a 400m ski run with a fall of over 60 m. Fresh snow is to be made daily to ensure ideal skiing. Over 6,000 tons of snow at any one time will cover Snow Park, which can accommodate up to 1,500 guests.
Besides skiing, Ski Dubai offers visitors a whole series of other activities such as snowboarding, tobogganing, and twin tract bobsled racing. As well, the Snow Park features a snowball shooting gallery, a dedicated learners area, and a snowboard stunt-park. The first of its kind in the Middle East, Ski Dubai gives the children of the region a chance to experience snow for the first time. Both young and old now have a chance to just romp in real snow – an opportunity to enjoy a total snow experience.
For those who just wish to relax and enjoy the cool air, Ski Dubai has a large observation tower, offering a view of the resort and its activities. However, if one prefers, at a mountainside cafe visitors can sit in comfort with family and friends and watch sports enthusiasts cheer their heroes on the slopes.
Snow Park is only one of the countless activities visitors will be able to experience in Dubai. This booming state in the United Arab Emirates has a unique flavor and personality made possible by a cosmopolitan society with an international lifestyle.
Some of the best golf courses in the world complement the most modern of hotels – from Burj Al Arab, considered to be a six-star plus abode to the huge waterfront project currently under construction in the Jabal Ali zone. Ultra-modern shopping malls, under construction, or completed, encircled by residential districts and lush green parks, saturate the city. It is a world of make-believe, but also a reality.
Anyone in the world with a far-out idea finds willing ears in this city of the future whose achievements have often found their way into ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ collection of strange ideas. Without a doubt, Ski Dubai Snow Park, developed by Majid Al Futtaim Investments, fits well into Dubai’s world of fantasy. It is the epitome of the many exciting sites and activities visitors will find in this city where dreams come true.
Now as visitors gaze on Ski Dubai Snow Park, they will no doubt be thrilled about this unique northern experience in a once desert land. They will see with their own eyes that what had been a fairytale idea had become a living fact of life. Like many other projects in Dubai which literally come to life overnight, what some had thought to be an impossibility has become a reality and Dubai once again, as it has many times before, created a ‘first’ in the world of Ripley.