GN Focus | Valentine's Day

Sweat and the city

From scuba to skydiving, the UAE offers unparalleled opportunities for adrenalin-pumping romance

  • By Thomas Billinghurst and Sanaya Pavri | Features Writers
  • Published: 05:00 February 7, 2013
  • GN Focus

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Just how well do you know your other half? If you’re in the just-getting-to-know-one-another phase, why not test their nerves and character at extreme altitude?
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Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is not a one-size-fits-all occasion. And exploring new avenues to express your romantic self has become a necessity to avoid the annual monotony. So toss the flowers out, turn off the Bryan Adams songs, cancel that dinner reservation, and replace the lot with something more exhilarating from our pick below. After all, what’s romance without adventure? In no particular order, here are some ideas to get you started.

Skydive Dubai


Just how well do you know your other half? If you’re in the just-getting-to-know-one-another phase, which means you’re uncertain as to whether their stern exterior is an act, why not test their nerves and character at extreme altitude? And jumping out of a plane at 20,000 feet will be sure to do that. If you can both cope with the unadulterated amounts of adrenalin coursing through your veins as you plummet towards the Palm Jumeirah together, you’ll find coping with the rest of coupledom a stroll in the park.

Price: Tandem Jump with digital stills and video — Dh1,750

Hot-air ballooning


Why not conquer your fears — and apprehensions about each other — by sailing over the UAE’s topography in a hot-air balloon? While you’re drifting above a herd of camels or vanilla sand dunes you could even pop the question without being afraid of a refusal — your partner will be too awestruck (or petrified) to decline.

Price: From Dh995. Contact www. arabiahorizons.com

Rock climbing


Scaling the heights of love is comparable to climbing the cliffs of Wadi Galilah. Numerous banana skins and unseen crevices line the face of a jagged and jaded obstacle, but when you reach the top the reward is obvious. To put this metaphor and adventure activity to the test, head to one of the UAE’s many mountain ranges, including Ras Al Khaimah’s aptly named Stairway to Heaven, for an adrenalin-rich adventure date.

Price on enquiry. Contact www.globalclimbing.com for details

Dubai Autodrome


Put the fun and fear back into your relationship with a day zooming around Dubai’s Autodrome. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So ipso facto, if you hurtle your car around the autodrome as fast as you can and you both survive, you are responsible for making your relationship stronger. For motoring and speed enthusiasts alike the autodrome is a win-win.

Price: From Dh600 for Club Circuit Newcomers

Scuba diving


Can your relationship survive the plunge? Get up close and personal with the marine life of the Arabian Gulf when you deep-sea dive to explore the wonders of Fujairah’s reefs. Scuba diving is a date with nature as much as it is with your other half. With some of the finest waters for exploring in the Middle East, the UAE’s coastal areas, Fujairah in particular, offer a Valentine’s Day with an aquatic twist.

Never mind the eel between your toes, the exotic fish 
slipping up your trunks and 
the imminent danger of 
your oxygen tank imploding — survive this and you’re 
set for some smooth sailing!

Price: From Dh750 per person. Contact www.arabiandiver.com

Yas Waterworld


Getting your kit off in public isn’t generally advisable in the UAE. But in the sanctioned confines of Abu Dhabi’s 43-ride water park, it’s all good. Those not brave enough to skydive can take on the Jebel Drop, the Liwa Loop and the Dawwama at high speed. And there’s always the consolation that if one should try the other’s nerves, there’s plenty of amusements to enjoy on your own. Not very romantic? When she hurtles down a high-speed slide into your arms, you’ll beg to differ.

Price: Dh225

Fishing


The gentle ebb and flow of the calm Gulf tide rocking your cosy trawler as you cast your line for the evening’s meal: a little slice of private heaven. Fishing season in the UAE runs from October to late May, so this might just be one of the most idyllic dates to initiate in the UAE, particularly on the solitary fringes of picturesque Dibba. Make your way into her heart by cooking your catch. Living the wild, coupled life never tasted so good.

Good to know: You will need to get a licence for recreational hook-line fishing in the UAE. The licence is given to residents, however, there are also short-term licences available for tourists.

On cloud nine

You will inevitably encounter some turbulence along the way in any relationship. And not all of it will be as scenic as a Seawings seaplane journey across the mesmerising cityscape. So you might as well test the water with this ideal adventure date. Better yet, it’ll give you a new perspective on life, love, and well, each other.

Racing across the Dubai Creek before ascending 2,000 feet above the emirate’s skyline in a tiny ten-seater Cessna Caravan is an exhilarating, unforgettable experience as you swoosh and plunge above the turquoise hues of the Gulf, literally flying from The World to The Palm in one swoop. Although it is a worn-out cliché that Dubai is best seen from the air, these dramatic flights truly do create some beautiful, unforgettable memories. And it’s the prefect experience to share with your loved one.

Booking gold class, where you’re treated to a private charter, if you have the capital and the inclination, is advisable. Unless you’re a fan of screaming babies and mid-flight sickness of little urchins that families decide to bring along for the ride for reasons best known to themselves. All the extra touches you get with the gold-class booking, including limousine transfer, make all the difference to a personal and perfect date.

For those looking for something more pocket-friendly, the silver experience is almost as good, with window seats for every passenger, and excellent service all round. Seawings also organises tours of Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, and offers chartered flights to Oman and other parts of the region.

He says: If you’re not forking out on the gold experience, make like adolescents at school and scramble to the back for the best seats. These are the seats next to each other. This is where you will get the chance to earn some brownie points when the flight gets rough and she needs a helping hand.

She says: Being whisked away on a private plane, no matter how tiny, is definitely an A-list tinsel-town moment.

Seawings rates: Gold package, Dh11,200; Silver, Dh1,325

Contact: www.seawings.ae

— T.B. and S.P.

GN Focus