It is now a year since the first indoor skiing facility in the Middle East opened in Dubai. It has now matured into a first-class and very convenient operation with much to offer the beginner or intermediate skier. So if you want to spend the morning on the beach and afternoon on the slope Ski Dubai.
The Ski Dubai complex is a part of the huge Mall of the Emirates, presently the largest shopping mall in the region, and is overlooked by the restaurants linked to the Kempinski Hotel adjacent to the mall.
Diners at the new Salmontini restaurant, for example, have a clear view of the bottom of the slope and ski-lift, and these restaurants are a nice place to go for apres-ski meals and alcoholic beverages. For something less expensive try the TGI Fridays which also has a panoramic view from the other side of the slopes.
Or you can stop at the mid-station cafe on the main slope itself which serves hot chocolate just like any good alpine ski resort. Indeed, Ski Dubai is a very authentic ski experience right down to the last detail, and everything has been very well thought through.
To start with, you need no equipment or specialist clothing whatsoever. You just turn up at Ski Dubai, pay the modest entry charge, and enter a vast hall under the slope where the many attendants issue you with clothing and boots.
After changing and storing your own clothes in a locker whose electronic card lock also functions as a ski-lift pass, then you go back to get your skis, which are naturally expertly adjusted to your weight. Up an escalator and you are at the entrance to the slope where you pick up your ski sticks.
On to the piste everyday is a good snow day in Ski Dubai. There is a dusting of fresh, fine powder snow and a firm base to make for the best turns possible. It is hard not to gain in confidence in such conditions.
If you want to have lessons – and the controlled conditions of an indoor ski complex are a great place to improve your technique or learn to ski – then Ski Dubai has instructors and courses for all levels of ability.
Beginners tend to stay on the gentle lower slope from the mid-station cafe downwards, while more advanced skiers head for the upper levels. Snowboarders are also welcome with humps and jumps to show off.
As in any proper ski resort the staff is at hand to make sure that nobody is behaving badly on the slopes or endangering fellow skiers. But this is done is a relaxed and friendly way, and not regimented like in North America.
Hence if you are a skier staying in Dubai, or bored on the beach, head for Ski Dubai for a very unusual experience and actually the skiing is not bad either.