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 the desert in -4°C climate: only 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 just to keep warm but for skiing and snowboarding), gloves, hats and socks. Suited and booted, 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 stall, selling a range of food and drinks, including hot dogs, nachos, hot chocolate and soup. It was 10pm and Ski Dubai was still packed with people. 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 speed. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that went by far too quickly.
Over 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 and we were given a quick safety briefing. The lights went down and the snowmakers and ploughs came out, marking the official start of our sleepover. Though there was a volleyball net on the other side of the slope, most of us opted to turn in for the evening.
Before arriving, I was apprehensive about the noise produced by the ploughs and snowmakers that run through the night. I was right to be concerned. For the next five hours, it was not the cold that kept us awake but the noise and shaking of the ground as a plough periodically trundled past our tent. I can’t deny that the thought it might run us over in our sleep crossed my mind more than once.
When 7am rolled round, we made our way to the restaurant for a breakfast of eggs, beef bacon and tomatoes, and coffee.
Overall the evening was certainly a unique experience, and one I am glad to have had. Upon reflection, however, there are certainly teething and logistical issues that need to be worked out.
The noise, in particular, should be addressed – particularly several previous reviews citing it as an issue.
I would also say that, for the price of Dh750 per person, I was a bit disappointed to find that there was not much left to do once the lights had gone down – it felt a little as if we were in the way of the staff who were 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.
• Ski Dubai Camp Outs, Mall of the Emirates, Friday nights, Dh750 per person, call 800 386 or 04 409 4242