Dubai: My nose starts to run after a few minutes when I step in wearing a down-filled jacket and large snow boots as the temperature inside Ski Dubai is a bone-chilling minus 2C.
"This cold is nothing if you are from Europe," says the lady from guest relations disdainfully as I sit huddled on the ski lift while we go higher and higher up the slope.
"Lift your feet up when we make the turn to go back down," she says in accented English. I did not know this at that time but the peak of the slope is 85 metres high from the ground, which is like going up 25 storeys strapped to a chair and hanging in the air.
As my ears slowly became numb I forgot for sometime that we were in a mall in a desert, and outside the temperature is blazing hot enough to fry an egg on the bonnet of your car.
Now about 2,000 people come to Ski Dubai over the weekend to ski or to just frolic in the snow. When Ski Dubai first opened in 2005 people dismissed it as an amusing and another wild idea.
Frenchman Lucas Marchand, operations manager of Ski Dubai, describes how it all came about: "Majid Al Futtaim, owner of Mall of the Emirates, wanted something that would make the mall a little more exciting than other malls. When he was visiting Japan [with his daughter], he saw a ski slope and said to himself, 'I have to bring it to Dubai.' When he came here, he said 'I want snow, we need to bring snow to Dubai." It was a clever idea."
According to a website on skiing, the Lalaport Ski Dome SSAWS in Tokyo, (which stands for spring, summer, autumn, winter snow), bills itself as a 'mountain under a roof' and cost $400 million (Dh1.46 billion) to build.
Unlike other indoor ski slopes that use artificial snow made from resins, Dubai Ski makes snow by spraying a mist of water and compressed air. Critics have said that Ski Dubai is a huge power consumer.
But Marchand disproves that.
He says it has a very innovative and efficient insulation. The roof has a first layer of insulation, then a five-metre layer of air, then a second layer of insulation. "With this buffer it is quite easy to keep the place cold," he says.
A comparison in power use was done in February and August. In the hottest month, when temperatures soar to nearly 49C, power consumption was only three per cent more, he claims.
Every night the snow is refreshed by adding between 5 and 25 tonnes, depending on the footfall. Busy times for Ski Dubai are summer, winter and public holidays. The highest number it had on one day was 7,800, on Eid.
"We are bringing snow culture where it had never existed. We have given people a chance to ski who normally would not have a chance," says Marchand.