Last week, when the UAE was recognised as being the hottest place in the world (50.5°C in Al Ain!) Out & About UAE decided to take a trip to Ski Dubai and get some some respite from the sweltering heat.
Located inside the Mall Of The Emirates, Ski Dubai is the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort and a marvel of the modern world. It’s the size of three football fields (22,500 SQM) and contains five runs, at a maximum height of 85m. Snow is present all year round and the temperature is maintained between -2°C and -20°C.
Arriving at Ski Dubai early on a Saturday morning, the ticket counters were already heaving, which made us think that it would be really busy inside – we were wrong! With a capacity for 1,500 visitors, people disperse inside and it really doesn’t feel busy. Having never visited before, we took some time to consider what passes to buy and how long to spend inside. There is no doubting that it is expensive, but is it worth it? We would say a resounding YES.
The tickets on offer can be a little confusing so let us try and break it down for you.
- The super pass gives you access to the snow park and all the activities contained within (including zorbing and the chairlift ).
- The power pass includes everything in the super pass, with the addition of one of the following experiences -discovery lesson, penguin encounter, or snow bullet.
- Ski Lessons – these can be individual or group lessons for a variety of ages and abilities.
- Ski Dubai Experience – is a one day pass that gives you access to everything.
- Slope Passes are for experienced skiers only. These can be purchased as a two hour session, or full day pass.
- Pen-Friend Encounters allow you to get up close and personal with a number of the resident penguins.
We would say to go with what interests you the most. Super passes are great for younger children, whereas teenagers and adults are likely to be more interested in the slope passes for skiing or snowboarding. It’s worth noting here that UAE residents get a discount when presenting a valid Emirates ID card and you can also use Entertainer vouchers for BOGOF (although you cannot use both discounts at the same time-sorry guys!).
Once you have selected your pass and paid for it, head over to the kit room to collect your clothing. The clothing is included in the price and consists of a snow suit, snow boots, disposable socks, gloves, helmets (for under 13’s) and any skiing equipment you may require – this is all allocated to you from your ticket and the kit room attendants are all very helpful (we saw them assisting children into their suits as well as some adults who clearly needed it!). Don’t worry if you don’t know your sizes, as there are conversion charts for a number of nationalities.
Once suited up you can finally hit the snow. Entering the turn-styles into Ski Dubai, you’re immediately transported into an alpine-themed, mountainous winter wonderland which will take your breath away… if the cold doesn’t get you first! The first thing you encounter is a wind tunnel and then an ice cave full of ice sculptures such as dragons and swans which are all beautifully illuminated. The perfect place for a family photo opportunity. Leaving the cave you are now truly in the snow, where you can have a snow ball fight, or grab a sledge for the kids and let them run wild. For younger children, there is an area designated just for making snowmen.
The snow park contains a number of attractions including a small climbing wall, an interpretation of a carousel (in which children are slowly spun in circles whilst sitting on small tubes), a replica bob-sleigh (where you travel down the run on your back), adult and children’s toboggan runs and the giant ball (basically zorbing down a ski slope). All of the snow park attractions are included in the super pass and will keep families occupied for hours, though be aware that height restrictions of 1m apply in some areas. You may get tired pulling the toboggans uphill to the starts of the runs, but there is a handy conveyor belt that you can use, and when it all gets too much you can stop for a hot chocolate in one of the cafes within (the snow suit has a small pocket for money and your ticket). The snow park is a wonderful place for families, especially if you have never experienced snow before.
For the adrenaline junkies, you have the snow bullet which is a zip-line that runs the length of the slopes – these can be used by two people to race against each other and are an exhilarating experience. If you’re still looking for a thrill why not take to the slopes? The chairlift takes you to the top of the slopes, with various stops on the way depending upon your skiiing ability. The top for example is only for experienced skiers, but you can ride the chairlift to the top without getting off, just for the spectacular views.
For the wildlife lovers amongst you, there are opportunities to participate in penguin encounters. If you want to see the penguins (but don’t want to pay) head to the snow park to see the ‘March Of The Penguins’ which takes place daily at 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm. During this time the resident penguins are brought out whilst the keepers give you information about them. There may also be an opportunity to win an encounter with the penguins by correctly answering a question at the end of the session, so be sure to listen carefully to all the info! This can also be viewed from outside of Ski Dubai, so if you are ever passing through the mall at these times, it is worth a stop. For those of you who really want to splash the cash, you could pay for a private swimming session with the penguins for 1500 AED!
Is it cold? Screens showed a temperature of -2 when we went. This may be a brisk but welcome change for the adults, but you may want to take additional gloves for little hands (we did see some children wearing their own, as well as the mittens provided) along with a hat. We would also recommend that all participants wear an extra layer such as a cardigan and trousers rather than shorts or a skirt, as you really do start to feel the cold after the first hour. Failing that, if you or the children need a 10 minute break from the cold, you are free to re-enter the (warm) locker room to use the bathroom, warm up the children’s hands or grab a sneaky bite of something from your bag!
All is not lost for spectators – if you have an elderly relative visiting or a spouse looking after a small child (and they actually want to sit down), the St Moritz cafe and The Cheesecake Factory have an excellent view of the snow park. Alternatively, there is a viewing deck located on the first floor, for perfect views of the slopes.
All in all Ski Dubai is excellent family fun with something for everyone! Definitely something to do at least once during your time in the UAE.
- LOCATION: Mall Of The Emirates, Al Barsha, Dubai (GPS: 25.117199, 55.198236)
- PRICE: Packages start at 250 AED, and vary depending on which activites you participate in. Or buy one get one free if using Entertainer vouchers.
- TIMINGS: Sunday – Thursday 10am – 11pm. Weekends 9am – 12:00am
- SUITABLE FOR FAMILIES: Yes – this is an attraction for the whole family (though you must be three years or older to enter).
- HANDY TIPS: Take extra layers & take money inside with you for snacks at various cafes (one is located in the snow park and another on the slopes)
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.