Attached to the Mall of the Emirates, the huge indoor ski resort of Ski Dubai is unquestionably one of the city’s weirder ideas. The idea of a huge indoor snow-covered ski slope (the first in the Middle East) complete with regular snowfall is strange enough amid the sultry heat of the Gulf – but the sight of robed Emiratis skiing, snowboarding or just chucking snowballs at one another adds a decidedly surreal touch to the already unlikely proceedings. If a peek is all you’re after, you can take in the whole spectacle for free from the viewing areas at the attached Mall of the Emirates.

The complex contains the world’s largest indoor snow park, comprising a huge 3000 square metres of snow-covered faux-Alpine mountainside, complete with chairlift. Accredited skiers and snowboarders (you’ll need to undergo a brief personal assessment to prove you possess the necessary basic skills to use the main slope) can use the five runs of varying height, steepness and difficulty, ranging from a beginners’ track through to the world’s first indoor black run, as well as a “freestyle zone” for show-off winter sports aficionados. There’s also a Snow School ski academy for beginners and improvers, as well as a twin-track bobsled ride, a snow cavern, chairlift and the “Snow Bullet” zipline, plus tobogganing and snowman-building opportunities.

Ski Dubai has also recently acquired its own troupe of resident king and gentoo penguins. A couple can be seen for free from the mall during the regular “March of the Penguins” (every 2hr on the hour), or at closer quarters on a full-blown “Penguin Encounter”.

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