If you’re looking for a novel way to beat the heat in the United Arab Emirates, hightail it to Ski Dubai. The first indoor ski resort in the Middle East (and as of 2018 it was the third largest in the world), Ski Dubai is located in the Mall of the Emirates, a star Dubai attraction in its own right.
While Dubai’s temperatures can head towards 120 F (50 C) at the height of summer, this wintry wonderland is kept at a cool 28 F (-2 C) year-round. Spend your day tobogganing and bobsledding, ziplining and zorb balling, swimming with penguins, sipping hot chocolate, and speeding down the 1,300-foot-long slope. To help you get the most out of your visit, discover our complete guide to Ski Dubai.
Skiing: Measuring 280 feet high and 1,300 feet long, Ski Dubai’s lofty indoor mountain is covered in 3 feet of real snow. This pristine piste offers a choice of five ski slopes catering to all skill levels, including gentle beginner slopes and the world’s first indoor black diamond run. If you’re fresh to skiing, sign up for a private or group session with a pro at the on-site Ski School.
Snowboarding: If snowboarding is more your schtick, shred the slopes then hit the quarter pipe and Freestyle Zone, home to an ever-changing line-up of jumps and rails that’ll test your mettle.
Ski-free thrills: For adrenaline-charged activities that require neither skis nor snowboard, barrel down the slopes in the inflatable Giant Ball; reach speeds of up to 26 miles an hour on the Mountain Thriller slide; or take a ride on the Snow Bullet, a 500-foot-long zip line that sails 50 feet above the ski fields.
Snow Park: Spanning three quarters of an acre, Ski Dubai’s Snow Park is home to tobogganing hills, an interactive snow cavern, bumper cars and twin track bobsled runs that’ll have you channelling “Cool Runnings.” Entry to the Snow Park is included in all packages, and it’s the perfect place for little ones to let off steam, making snow angels and throwing snowballs.
Chair lift: Be transported to the ski fields of Europe with a ride on Ski Dubai’s state-of-the-art chair lift, offering a bird’s eye view of the snow-dusted slopes and chalets. A chair lift ride is included in all but the most basic package.
Meet the Penguins: Ski Dubai’s resident colonies of King and Gentoo penguins come out to play for the free March of the Penguins show at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. each day. To take your penguin experience to the next level, book the Peng-Friend Encounter, which includes underwater viewing and a playdate with up to 14 penguins. Or, sign up for the Swimming with Penguins adventure, a VIP experience that includes a 15-minute swim with the adorable black-and-white birds. Be sure to book ahead for this up-close-and-personal package, available only on Wednesdays at 4 p.m., for adults over 18.
Entry to Ski Dubai
There are a range of packages available at Ski Dubai, starting with the basic entry to the Snow Park at 200 dirham. For access to the Snow Park, plus one ride each on the chair lift and Mountain Thriller, opt for the Snow Classic (265 dirham). Snow Plus (350 dirham) adds your choice of Discovery Lesson, Peng-Friend Encounter or Snow Bullet ride; while the Snow Premium package (500 dirham) promises unlimited rides, a Peng-Friend Encounter, two hours on the slope or a one-hour lesson, lunch or dinner at North 28, and premium ski gear.
For families with toddlers, it’s worth noting that children under 2 are not permitted in Ski Dubai.
Dining in and Around Ski Dubai
Once you’ve worked up an appetite on the slopes, there’s a host of après-ski options in and around Ski Dubai. Stop off at Avalanche Café halfway up the mountain for a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and marshmallows or a sandwich on the terrace.
For something more substantial once you’ve finished your run, grab a juicy burger or hotdog at North 28, just outside the entrance to Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates, or head upstairs to the eateries overlooking the slopes. Dine on cheese fondue at Après bar and restaurant, mod-Asian plates at Miu Shanghai, and Lebanese cuisine with a side order of snow scenes at Karam Beirut.
It’s a breeze to reach Ski Dubai via public transport – simply catch the Metro to the Mall of the Emirates station, then follow the signs within the mall to Ski Dubai. Fancy a skiing holiday in the heart of the desert? Bed down at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, which offers 20 Aspen Chalets with luxurious alpine-style interiors and jaw-dropping views of the snow slopes.