While it is certainly true that my skiing options this season took a significant hit with the decision to come to Abu Dhabi, it is not true that snow skiing is impossible in the Emirates! In Dubai, there is an indoor ski slope that is essentially a giant refrigerator turned into a ski slope. This place is called Ski Dubai, and it is located in a giant mall called Mall of the Emirates.
On the slope, there is a chairlift, a T-bar, a few jumps and even a black run. Well, run may be a bit of stretch coming from Colorado, but it was kind of steep. In restaurants on the other side of the glass that separates the ski slope from the mall were TV screens displaying burning logs in an attempt to recreate an aprés-ski ambiance. The snow wasn’t bad, and for a ski slope located in a mall, it worked about as well as it probably could.
Ski Dubai was even able to provide something that I’ve never seen while skiing: penguins. Yes, Ski Dubai is home to several of them, and they march around the base of the slope every couple of hours.
By this point, you’ve probably written off Ski Dubai as a super-kitsch, profligate insult to the sports of skiing and snowboarding. And there may be some truth in that judgment. However, I found it interesting that a lot of the people there were not tourists; they were locals kitted out in their own gear, trendy baggy outfits, and expensive headphones. The Emirates have the resources to create a lot of things that aren’t naturally found in this part of the world, and it’s rare that a country has the resources and the will to provide such things to its citizens to keep them entertained.
While I may not be trading in my Colorado ski pass for one at Ski Dubai, it was definitely cool to say that I’ve been skiing in the middle of the desert.