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Review of Ski Dubai snowdrome part of Mall of the Emirates

Ski Dubai is a gigantic snowdrome, part of Mall of the Emirates, third largest shopping mall in the world which opened late 2005.

Ski Dubai is housed inside a huge sloping metal skin that looks from the outside like the fuselage of a giant aircraft standing on top of the shopping mall. No matter how hot and humid it is outside, it's a snowy winter wonderland inside, with a snow park and a ski slope that's half a kilometre long.

My first glimpse of Ski Dubai is from inside Mall of the Emirates, looking through double glazed viewing windows. After seeing Ski Dubai through the glass I decided I would have to return with our four year old daughter, and a few days later I did.

The entrance is directly from the mall and after you've paid, you receive your free outer garments and snow boots. Gloves and woolen hats are not included, though helmets are provided. Virtually all sizes are available suitable catering for all visitors from small children to outsize adults.

The left hand entrance is for skiers and the right hand side is for the snow park. After passing through a set of double doors you enter an icy grotto with chilly sound effects. Soon you're in the snow park and there are plenty of things to do, including various toboggan rides, and a double bob sleigh run. You can stand on the tower at the top, and watch the skiers as they descend.

From the end of the Snow Park there's a view up the slope, which disappears round a 60 degree bend. This is the 400m / 1200 ft ski run. Skiers use a chair lift to ascend to the top. There's plenty of space, as much as on any piste, and it doesn't look at all cramped, as you might expect at an indoor facility like this. There are different trails depending on level of experience, including two steeper ones. Skiing lessons are provided by a team of instructors from many countries.

For me the most amazing thing was to walk from the warm Gulf environment into an icy, snowy one in the space of a couple of minutes. As someone who enjoys cold weather, this felt like a normal environment to me, and I enjoyed just walking around in it and seeing the steam from my breath. Many local residents will have never seen snow, so a visit to Ski Dubai will be a new experience.

It's a great place for children of all ages. Our four-year-old enjoyed making snowballs and snow animals, including one shaped like a polar bear. She enjoyed being pulled along on the sledge from one end of the snow park to the other. Eventually she began to feel chilly and so it was time to leave. Reluctantly, I left the comfortable temperature behind and emerged back into the warmth of Mall of the Emirates.

Ski Dubai has caught the imagination of the world, and it has attracted a lot of media coverage. And yet there are plenty of other snowdromes around the world and the technique of creating a sub-zero environment isn't revolutionary. Really, it's just a giant refrigerator. But the attraction here is the contrast between the sweltering outside temperature and - for me - normal temperature inside!

Many years ago, I remember seeing Christmas cards on sale with scenes of Dubai in snowy weather, created using photomontage. - This light hearted fantasy has been turned into a reality at Ski Dubai. It's an unforgettable experience and I definitely recommend it - even if you're from North Pole!

Statistics: Area: 22,500 square metres, 73125 square feet or three football fields Weight of snow: 6000 tons Capacity: 1500 people Temperature: minus 1 degree celsius / 31 fahrenheit

Ski Dubai is open from 10am till 11pm. Our Snow Park tickets cost 100 dirhams, including use of a locker. More information at the Ski Dubai website

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2007-06-03

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