The idea of an indoor ski slope in the middle of the desert is, in itself, somewhat novel. Add in the option of overnight camping in the snow, however, and you’ve got yourself a potentially extraordinary experience – as friends and family pointed out when I told them I would be camping in -4°C weather in Dubai.
My husband and I went along to Mall of the Emirates on Friday night for the official launch of Ski Dubai’s Camp Outs.
When we arrived we were kitted out with warm clothes – jackets, scarfs, ski trousers, boots (not only to keep warm, but for skiing and snowboarding), gloves, hats and socks.
Suitably wrapped up, we were escorted into the ski area, shown to our tent – already pitched and set up with thermal mats and heavy-duty sleeping bags – and left to our own devices. Across from us was a small, fairground-style food stall, selling a range of food and drinks, including hotdogs, nachos, hot chocolate and soup.
It was 10pm and Ski Dubai was still busy. After walking around the area in search of penguins – only to be told, much to our dismay, they were already asleep – we decided to give the zip line a try. Following a quick chairlift ride, we were weighed, equipped and sent down at breakneck speed. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that went by far too quickly.
Throughout the next few hours we dipped in and out of the ski area, warming up inside when necessary. The hot chocolate and soup also did the trick and, by 11.30pm, our stomachs were competing with the sounds of the chair lift.
Ski Dubai closes at about midnight and our camping group – about 16 of us – was ushered into a small room. Our breakfast orders were taken haphazardly and we were given a quick safety briefing. The lights went down and the snowmakers and ploughs come out, marking the official start of our sleepover. Though there was a volleyball net on the other side of the slopes, most of us opted to turn in for the evening.
Before arriving, I was concerned about the noise produced by the ploughs and snowmakers that run throughout the night. I was right to be concerned. For the next five hours, it’s not the cold that keeps us awake, but rather the noise and shaking of the ground as a plough periodically trundles past our tent – I can’t deny that the thought it might run us over in our sleep crossed my mind more than once.
Eventually 7am rolled around and we made our way down to the restaurant for a breakfast of eggs, beef bacon and tomatoes, and steaming-hot coffee.
Overall the evening was certainly a unique experience, and one I am glad I had.
Upon reflection, however, there are certainly teething and logistical issues that need to be worked out. Despite several previous reviews that highlighted the issue of noise from the ploughs, a solution wasn’t created to compensate for this.
I would also say that, for the price of Dh750 per person, I was a bit disappointed to find that there was little left to do once the lights had gone down – it felt a little like we were in the way of the staff who were simply trying to go about their duties of readying the area for the next morning.
Even something as simple as a seating area for us to chat with others in the group, close to the food stand and tents, would have been reason enough for us to stay awake for longer.
Source: art & life