What is it like to ride Ain Dubai, the world's tallest observation wheel?

The highly anticipated UAE attraction will open to the public on October 21

Ain Dubai, the world’s tallest observation wheel, has announced it will be welcoming guests from October 21 – and tickets are currently on sale.

The National this week got a sneak peek of the attraction which, at 250 metres high, is the world’s tallest observation wheel (clocking in at nearly twice the height of the London Eye).

Thinking about booking tickets? Here’s what you need to know about the experience.

First impressions

The Ain Dubai building is a work of art in its own right. On entry, you’ll find a modern reception area imagined in white, with giant columns that draw your attention towards the ceiling. Up there you'll find an eye-catching feature that Ron Drake, Ain Dubai’s general manager, refers to as a “chandelier”.

In reality, it’s a transparent section of the ceiling through which visitors can see the structure and its slowly revolving cabins, an enticing teaser of what to expect.

Once you’re done admiring the reception, you are led up a staircase to a platform that forms an entryway into the cabins. Crafted with glass panels, you can catch a glimpse of the pods slowly rotating while standing in air-conditioned luxury, perfect for more picture opportunities.

A single rotation on Ain Dubai takes about 38 minutes and guests are advised to arrive 30 minutes ahead of their booking slot to complete the entry process, buy snacks and use the washrooms.

Getting into the Ain Dubai cabin

The type of cabin you enter depends entirely on the experience you’ve booked. If it’s an observation cabin, you’ll find yourself in a spacious glass pod, with a simple white table in the centre.

A private cabin comes with plush seats, all of which face outward for the best viewing opportunities, and a centre bar where staff can make and serve beverages.

There are also more exclusive cabins for experiences such as Dine in the Sky, wherein guests can enjoy a full meal during two rotations of the wheel.

Although there are exceptions, for the most part Ain Dubai does not stop rotating, so guests will be hopping into – and out of – a pod while it is still slowly moving.

Much like in a metro, an announcement is made within the cabins to remind people that the doors will be opening or closing. If you miss the announcement, there are two screens on the pod that also display visuals to remind you.

Inside the Ain Dubai cabin

Once the doors are closed, it’s all about standing back and admiring the view. The wheel moves slowly and smoothly, giving you uninterrupted views of Bluewaters Island and the Address Beach Resort. As the wheel moves higher, the Dubai coastline and Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) begin to take shape.

The cabins are air-conditioned and rather spacious, with more than enough room for a group of 10, which is how many people they are currently accommodating owing to Covid-19 safety regulations.

Thanks to its glass walls, there are 360-degree views available, so don’t be afraid to walk around and take in the vistas from different vantage points.

The best view, unsurprisingly, comes when the pod is right at top of the wheel.

On a clear day, you can clearly see the outline of Palm Jumeirah, right down to Atlantis, The Palm on one end, while the Burj Al Arab can also be spotted in the distance. Meanwhile, sprawling views of JBR, jet boats moving through the water and the Dubai coastline all add to the experience. Those with a fear of heights, however, may find it a bit nerve-racking.

The experience also vastly differs according to the time of visit, with sunset widely touted as the optimum slot.

The view of JBR, The Palm Jumeirah and the overall Dubai skyline seems to glitter at night, while the blue waters seen during the day turn into an inky black. However, if you’re a shutterbug and can’t decide between the daytime and night-time slots, we recommend going during the day. The reflections on the curved glass walls during the night slot can be a photographer’s nightmare.

Despite the steady pace, one rotation seems to finish too soon, especially when you factor in the time taken for photos, videos, Facebook Lives and the like.

After hopping out of the still-moving cabin, a staircase leads you downstairs to a gift shop before you leave. It’s stocked with Ain Dubai-themed souvenirs – from T-shirts (priced between Dh75 and Dh100) and cups (Dh25 to Dh39) to water bottles (Dh25).

Conclusion

Ain Dubai has easily been one of the most widely anticipated launches of the year. With tickets finally on sale, it’s definitely a must-visit for tourists and residents who want to see Dubai from a new vantage point.

The pace and overall experience is rather smooth, and the views are stellar. Just don’t forget to charge that camera.

Ain Dubai opens to the public on Thursday, October 21; it will be open daily from noon to 10pm. Prices are from Dh130 for adults and Dh100 for children. Details on experiences, packages, parking and more are here.

Updated: August 26th 2021, 12:41 PM
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