Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mall Of The Emirates!

Ski Dubai is housed inside a huge sloping metal skin that looks from the outside like the fuselage of a giant aircraft standing on top of the shopping mall. No matter how hot and humid it is outside, it's a snowy winter wonderland inside, with a snow park and a ski slope that's half a kilometre long.

The entrance is directly from the mall and after you've paid, you receive your free outer garments and snow boots. Gloves and woolen hats are not included, though helmets are provided. Virtually all sizes are available suitable catering for all visitors from small children to outsize adults.

The left hand entrance is for skiers and the right hand side is for the snow park. After passing through a set of double doors you enter an icy grotto with chilly sound effects. Soon you're in the snow park and there are plenty of things to do, including various toboggan rides, and a double bob sleigh run. You can stand on the tower at the top, and watch the skiers as they descend.

From the end of the Snow Park there's a view up the slope, which disappears round a 60 degree bend. This is the 400m / 1200 ft ski run. Skiers use a chair lift to ascend to the top. There's plenty of space, as much as on any piste, and it doesn't look at all cramped, as you might expect at an indoor facility like this. There are different trails depending on level of experience, including two steeper ones. Skiing lessons are provided by a team of instructors from many countries.
For me the most amazing thing was to walk from the warm Gulf environment into an icy, snowy one in the space of a couple of minutes. As someone who enjoys cold weather, this felt like a normal environment to me, and I enjoyed just walking around in it and seeing the steam from my breath. Many local residents will have never seen snow, so a visit to Ski Dubai will be a new experience.

Ski Dubai has caught the imagination of the world, and it has attracted a lot of media coverage. And yet there are plenty of other snowdromes around the world and the technique of creating a sub-zero environment isn't revolutionary. Really, it's just a giant refrigerator. But the attraction here is the contrast between the sweltering outside temperature and - for me - normal temperature inside!