Dubai: In other cities, skiing, snow rides and penguins may be part of a seasonal trip, but in Dubai – be it summer or winter – this is possible all year. Ski Dubai is one of the UAE’s top tourist destinations and is a world-class indoor ski resort. As part of this report, I spent the good part of an entire day playing in snow and trying out thrilling activities.
It might come as a surprise, but in my 46 years I have never experienced snow or made a snowman, even though one of my passions is travelling, especially to cold climes. So this day was that much more exciting. I was going to spend the day at Ski Dubai, unleashing my inner child and just having fun.
I expected the experience to be ‘artificial’ since, after all we live in the desert. But, the snow-covered venue transported me to a pristine and pure space where the only diktat is that you have fun and forget which side of the world you are on. From having breakfast with cute penguins in tow to hurtling down a steep snow slope in an actual ball, my day at Ski Dubai definitely brought out the inner child in me.
The 4,500-metre square Snow Park stood waiting for a visit; the chairlift beckoned all travelers – and the rides called all thrill-seekers.
Starting the day off
The day began with breakfast with an unusual view – penguins playing in the cool Snow Park overlooking my table as I sat eating my meal at N28. While the breakfast is available till later, the penguins are only available for an early slot at 8.30am. So plan well in advance if you’re looking to try that out. The breakfast is priced at Dh175 per person which comes with a choice of breakfast beverage and one breakfast menu item.
Did you know?
Ski Dubai is home to two types of penguins: the Gentoo and the King penguins. Want to know how to tell the difference? The Gentoo have a white cover that covers both eyes. The King penguins meanwhile have a black head, chin, and throat, with vivid orange, tear-shaped patches on each side of their head.
After the nosh – and the photographs – I headed to the Ski Dubai counter, where I ‘suited up’ in winter gear including snow boots. I dumped all my stuff in a locker – which is complimentary – and got ready for an adventure. (You can bring your own snow pants however, Ski Dubai gives you socks, gloves, a jacket and pants to pull over your clothes, if you need it.)
Fun with the penguins
Now it was time for a closer encounter with the star celebrities, regal birds that can swim. We saw The March of Penguins, a coordinated effort that saw them parading around the park. I joined them for the stroll. Soon, these brilliant birds would be eating fish on a special slope reserved just for them. (The dishes are sourced from Norway and Canada for the gourmands.)
As I tottered alongside them all bundled up in a warm jacket, I had an unrelenting urge to try something … I made my very first snowball!
As a ‘Home Alone’ fan, I had to try this one – a bob sled ride. ! I slid down on the launch pads through a route filled with fun twists and turns.
The next ride was a doozy – and the most popular it seemed, if you go by the queues anyway. It was a Zorb ball. This gigantic plastic bubble held me as I rolled down the mountain. I could hear squeals – they were mine!
I had to give it a minute – all the rolling had my stomach in a tizzy, but as soon as it settled I headed to the next one: Tubing, where you hold on to a tube as you slide down a bumpy snow-laced slide. It was fast, it was furious, it was so much fun!
Finally, before the visit ended it was time to slide into the bumper cars – the snowy version of course. Driving in the snow was something else.
Cosy cinema experience
After the fun activities, I was ready for a break and headed to the Snow Cinema just in time to sit back and relax. With popcorn and hot chocolate, I was set for a relaxing hour. Once seated into the comfy lounge-style recliner in front of the large screen, you are given wireless headphones. If you need anything mid-way through the movie, simply raise your hands and an attendant will be there for you.
Skiing and snow-boarding
Since I am not someone who knows how to ski, I didn’t attempt to try the ski slopes. When I rode the chair lift up I could see some people who were clearly first-timers, alongside some really experienced skiers and snow-boarders. Skiers and snowboarders are taken to the top of the mountain by a quad lift or tow line. Ski Dubai has five runs, the longest of which is 400m long.
There are also packages to learn how to ski. Ski Dubai’s Ski School offers a range of group and private lessons designed for all ski levels (beginners, intermediate and advanced) and all age groups (ages 3 and up). Prices start from Dh180 per lesson.
There are two stops on the chair lift. There is a small eatery and warming hut at the halfway point called the Avalanche Cafe. If you enjoy snowboarding, there is a snowboard park at the very top of the slopes
Ski Dubai was recently awarded ‘World’s Best Indoor Ski Resort’ at the World Ski Awards for the sixth year in a row (2016 - 2021)
Price and Timings
Snow daycation pass starts from Dh 270; 10am – 11pm Sunday – Wednesday, 10am – 12am Thursday, 9am – 12am Friday and Saturday