Dubai’s list of attractions is ever-expanding. From Box Park to the Dubai Walls street art project, and the world’s tallest tower, there is always somewhere to go. Adding to this list of offerings is Hub Zero, located in the heart of the as-yet unfinished posh urban development City Walk, just off Shaikh Zayed Road.
The creators call Hub Zero a “gaming hub”, spread over two floors and 15,000 square metres. It currently holds 17 attractions, including multiplayer games, a soft play area and a 4D cinema for young visitors, along with a PC-gaming suite, karaoke booths and pool tables. It also has cafes, and a place that sells ice cream and frozen yoghurt doused in liquid nitrogen.
It quickly becomes apparent that a lot of time has been spent on the decor of the place. Each attraction — even the restaurants — has a distinct look and feel. For example, the facade for Hero Zone, a physical-activity area for people who really like climbing things, is done up in the style of an abandoned building with boarded-up windows. It’s simple and impactful.
Retro arcades will take you down memory lane at Time Warp Arcade.
And facades are not the only thing that thought and detail has been put into. Time Warp Arcade is the park’s retro-themed gaming arcade, complete with arcade cabinets of old school classic games, and will remind you of someplace you used to play as a child (if you’re a little older), or of something you saw on TV that you know reminds slightly older people of where they played as children. It’s right next to The Server, a cafe which looks like a set piece from Back to the Future.
“Since we opened, every time I make a visit to Hub Zero and speak to visitors, [I find that they are] a bit astonished about this idea, especially people in their mid-30s and 40s… It reminds them of the 1980s and the beginning of the gaming era,” said Jean Marc Bled, general manager of Leisure and Entertainment at operator Meraas.
That’s the case with nearly every attraction at Hub Zero. If you’ve been exposed to media and what dominates pop culture, you will be able to link what you’re doing to something you’ve seen or heard of.
In a city with some of the best malls in the world, each with its own gaming area, Hub Zero holds its own. All the rides are sensory experiences, made better by visual or physical effects. Whether it’s a car racing simulator that twists and turns as you do, or you’re shooting down zombies straight through the head, most games here (though bespoke to Hub Zero) are the sort that you would usually find in an arcade — just more immersive.
The staff are friendly, knowledgeable about what they’re in charge of, and ready to help out if you are too overwhelmed by the experience. Tickets start at Dh160.
TOP 7 THINGS TO DO AT HUB ZERO
Though some of the attractions such as Dragon Age (a rollercoaster), Final Fantasy VII (a dark tunnel ride based on the game) and Battlefield (strategy shooting) aren’t operational at the time of publishing, there’s still lots to do at Hub Zero. Here’s a list of the seven most interesting attractions on offer.
This is Hub Zero’s most popular attraction, and a personal favourite. Double Agent can be played on single or double player mode, and involves a stationary laser maze you have to navigate at your chosen level of difficulty. It’s barely less challenging than the one in the heist scene in Ocean’s Twelve, where Vincent Cassel’s character shimmies and limbos his way out of a constantly rotating, nearly impossible to predict laser maze. But then again, I probably feel that way because my much more agile partner navigated through the maze with relative ease, while my performance left much to be desired. Nevertheless, it’s great fun, and a really unique experience.
Virtual Arena is a shooter game specific to Hub Zero and is the first wireless VR experience in the UAE. It’s fronted by a futuristic sleek white facade and inside, the space is separated into booths for each player. The player is outfitted with VR glasses and a gun, and the objective is to survive a zombie apocalypse by shooting dead as many of the undead as possible. Each booth is fitted with eight motion detectors that track the player’s movements to more efficiently attack them with zombies on all sides.
Time Warp Arcade
For nostalgic gamers, this will probably be the best part of the park. From the arcade cabinets featuring old-school classics such as Pac-Man and Mario Brothers and pinball tables to the brightly neon–lit ceiling and the music, everything at Time Warp Arcade looks like it has been designed to help older visitors feel some sort of sentimentality. The arcade is right opposite Lucky Break, the pool table area that has ten tables to rent by the hour.
There are six futuristic booths fitted with recording devices. The soundproofed walls are ‘painted’ with smoothly transitioning lights and there’s nearly everything you would expect in a standalone karaoke bar — even food (you can order from The Server and your meal will be delivered to you).
Network Arena is a PC gaming suite, complete with individual and private group gaming stations. Each station in the arena is equipped with a high-speed internet connection and professional gaming equipment that can be rented by the hour with a large number of popular PC games to play. At full capacity, the Arena can hold 70 gamers in its 40 individual stations and 30 stations in the eight private group gaming rooms.
Gears of War: Laser Siege
This is strategy-focused laser tag, based on the video game franchise. It’s two levels of very dimly lit game area where two groups (up to 24 people can play in groups of six, eight or 12) have to battle against each other. The objective is to first find the target, which can be hidden anywhere in the game, and then defend it against the opposing team. It’s pretty intense, with different chambers for players to get briefed and then outfitted (with a helmet and gun) before going to play in the game area.
Asura’s Wrath (4D)
Asura’s Wrath is a short 4D experience. The movie is about Asura’s father, who needs to be saved as he battles fiery alien creatures ravaging the earth. The movie is in 3D, and makes use of synchronised lighting, bass sound effects, moving seats, ticklers and water sprays for the 4D experience. Just a warning: while it seems to be targeted towards children, this might be slightly frightening for younger kids.