Have I convinced you that Dubai is one of the weirdest cities yet? No? What if I tell you about the time I went skiing – in the middle of the desert? Cuz let me tell you, that was weird (and cool!).
Ski Dubai is located in the Mall of the Emirates. Walking through a mall, admiring the shops, then seeing a ski lift on the other side of a window is pretty unexpected.
The entrance is on the first floor, and looks like any other store you would see in a mall (minus the clothes).
Once again, thanks to Nevine and her Entertainer book, we have a buy one, get one free coupon for the full day pass. If you are choosing to ski, you have two options – a 2 hour pass for 200 dirhams and a full day pass for 300 dirhams. Maggie and I both feel 2 hours is more than enough time, however since it’s cheaper with the coupon (150 dirhams each) to buy the full day pass, that’s what we go with. Included in the price of a ticket is a coat, pants, socks and all your equipment. Not included is a hat and gloves, which we borrowed from Nevine (but are available to purchase if you don’t have someone to borrow from). The beach bags are for the pool later. Because what else would you do apres-ski in Dubai?
After we’re dressed in our cold weather gear, it’s time to head up the escalator (yes escalator, how do you get to the ski slopes?) to a winter wonderland.
Pro tip – it’s COLD. As someone who hails from the pacific northwest and loves the cold, I wasn’t too worried about not being warm enough. How wrong I was! As much as I enjoyed being out of the heat of the desert outside, I wish I had worn another sweater.
Behind us in the picture above is a group learning to ski. If you’ve never skied or snowboarded before, you are required to take a lesson before you can hit the slopes. If this isn’t your speed or you don’t have time, you can buy a ticket to just the snow park. They have tubbing, a penguin encounter (if I remember correctly) and you can ride the chairlift up and back down again, plus many other activities. It’s fun for the whole family, but I’ll take skiing any day.
We cruise right up to the chairlift, which is just like any other chairlift you’d find on any real mountain, and head up for our first run. There are almost no other people here skiing.
Apologies for the series of selfies you’re about to scroll through. It’s been over a week in each other’s company and we’ve gone a bit crazy.
There are two places to get off the lift. The first is about halfway up and we start here to warm up. It’s been awhile since Maggie has been on a snowboard and she wants to take it slow. Despite being all man-made, the skiing isn’t bad. The snow is well groomed and not too icy. After a few runs, I coax and coerce her to take the lift to the top for some longer ski runs. She hesitantly agrees. I shot a video of one run, and she’s pretty good! I don’t know what she’s so worried about.
Near the end of our visit, we realize the T-bar rope tow is a much faster way to get to the top of the slope. The lift moves slowly and stops often to allow non-skiers to ride around and enjoy the view. In some ways I wish I would have known this earlier as we could have gotten more runs in, and the cold really gets to you when you’re sitting there doing nothing. But I wonder if we had gotten more runs in by using the rope tow, would we have stayed as long? It would have been a shame not to spend a couple hours here after all that work to get ready. There’s only so many times you can do the same run before you’re ready to move onto something new. If you’re looking to get as many laps in as possible, maybe if you bought the 2 hour ticket, take the rope tow. But if you’re like us and just enjoying the experience, the chairlift is a fun way to go. Just make sure you bring layers!
We spend about an hour and a half cruising around the slopes before deciding to call it a day. We’re meeting Nevine later so she can take us to her club for a bit more relaxing as it’s our final day in Dubai. I’m so glad we made it to Ski Dubai as it’s one of the activities I wanted to do most, and I love telling my friends I started my 2015/16 ski season off in the desert. They all look at me like I’ve gone mad. But it’s another example of what a crazy and weird place Dubai is. It’s such a mix of extremes and opposites, of east and west, of city and desert. It kind of has to be seen to be understood!