By Saket Suman
Dubai, Oct 7 : When it comes to picking a destination, weather is often a deciding factor for most tourists, and for Dubai — a city that literally spells luxury — the harsh summer months last a little longer than in other parts of the world. But does that mean you should delay your dream trip till the onset of winter?
Perhaps no, if you look at the wide range of indoor activities and tourist hotspots that this city offers to its visitors. Everything about this city seems straight out of Hollywood, amazing you in more ways than you can think of. There are surreal experiences too, like a visit to the Dubai Museum, which is situated in Bur Dubai and is housed in the 18th century Al Fahidi fort. It has several galleries that depict life around Dubai over the past 5,000 years — as a trading settlement, through the oil boom and finally the current skyscraper world.
High-rise buildings are common in most metropolitan cities, but Dubai is at an altogether different level. If one were to take a count, the average number of storeys in high-rise buildings here would probably be close to 50, and the city is extremely well-planned. The celebrated highest tower in the world — Burj Khalifa — is one-of-a-kind. It was unlike anything I had ever seen or imagined.
Here are three indoor ideas to make your Dubai trip memorable — even in summer:
1. Get an adrenaline rush at Dubai Ice Rink and Ski Dubai. If you are an adventure seeker and a sports enthusiast then these are the two most important activities to indulge in. The ice rink is housed inside the Dubai Mall and is one of the key leisure attractions in the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destination. Assuring unlimited fun for skating enthusiasts and visitors, it offers a full programme of coaching from basic learning to advanced figure skating.
Ski Dubai is housed inside the Mall of the Emirates. With 22,500 square metres of indoor ski area, it features an 85-metre-high mountain with five slopes of varying steepness and difficulty — including a 400-metre-long run — and various features like boxes, rails and kickers that are changed on a regular basis. A quad lift and a tow lift carry skiers and snowboarders up the mountain. Adjoining the slopes is a 3,000-square-metre Snow Park play area comprising sled and toboggan runs, an icy body slide, climbing towers, giant snowballs and an ice cave.
2. Close encounters with marine life at Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Head to Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo to interact with around 33,000 marine animals. The 10-million litre Dubai Aquarium tank is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world. It houses over 140 species of animals. Over 300 sharks and stingrays live in this tank, including the largest collection of sand tiger sharks in the world. There are numerous ways for visitors to experience the main aquarium tank, which measures 51 metres in length, 20 metres in width and 11 metres in height.
The 48-metre walk-through tunnel provides 270 degree views from 11 metres below the surface of the tank. Visitors can also take a ride in a glass-bottomed boat, providing unique views of the tank under their feet. Those who want to experience a dip in the tank can opt for a cage snorkeling experience. And for the adventurous ones, a shark dive is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, bringing you within inches of a large variety of sharks and stingrays.
3. Take a stroll down the City Walk and visit the Green Planet. Spread across 13,000 square metres, City Walk is reminiscent of European-style streets. Take a stroll down the walk lined with designer stores and restaurants — and make sure you look up to appreciate the striking vista of city skyscrapers, including the Burj Khalifa. Water features, play areas for children, and plenty of al fresco seating add to the appeal. Once you are tired — relax and unwind at one of the many cafes dotting the streets.
Thereafter, head to the Green Planet, barely five minutes away on foot. This is a tropical rainforest in the middle of the desert. Visitors have an opportunity to explore and interact with exotic flora and fauna in this fully immersive vertical tropical forest. It houses more than 3,000 species of plants, animals and free-flying birds. Porcupines, sloths, snakes, spiders and a huge array of exotic birds are just some of the species living within the confines of the Green Planet.
(Saket Suman was in Dubai at the invitation of Dubai Tourism. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)