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Learning to Ski in 115-Degree Dubai

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On her trip to Dubai last weekend, TPG Contributor Sarah Silbert stopped by one of the city’s “coolest” attractions. Here’s her experience learning to ski at the Mall of the Emirates. (All photos by Zach Honig.)

The United Arab Emirates has beautiful mosques, record-setting skyscrapers and open-air souks, but with often-stifling temperatures, it’s no surprise that both tourists and locals opt to spend significant time indoors. On my visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai last week, the 115-degree weather was a perfect excuse to head to one of the most unique attractions in the UAE: Ski Dubai, located in the sprawling Mall of the Emirates.

The entrance to Ski Dubai is chaotic and crowded, but things aren't so crazy once you're on the slopes.
The entrance to Ski Dubai is chaotic and crowded, but things aren’t so crazy once you’re on the slopes.

In true Dubai style, this place is epic in every way, with multiple slopes for skiers and snowboarders; a “Penguin Encounter” attraction; a Swiss chalet-style spot to grab hot chocolate and a wide variety of lessons. There’s even an attached five-star Kempinski hotel, complete with “Ski Chalet” rooms that overlook the “mountain.” I decided to book a group lesson, as my skiing experience was nonexistent and, well, why not?

A Ski Dubai employee gets my skis ready to go.
A Ski Dubai employee gets my skis ready to go.

The hour-long Discovery Lesson, the most entry-level option available, costs AED 150 (about $41). Considering how expensive ski lessons can be back in the States — and the fact that Ski Dubai includes gear rental in this price — this is a great value. And I got an additional 20% discount for paying with MasterCard — in this case, a Citi Prestige card. The only extras were optional gloves and a hat, which were available for less than $10 each in the Ski Dubai shop (and which I’ll be keeping for future ski trips back home).

Walking up the bunny slope with skis on proved to be quite the workout.
Walking up the bunny slope with skis on proved to be quite the workout.

With only one long-ago snowboarding session under my belt, I was a tad nervous to step on the bunny slope. Luckily, though, the experience was fun and anything but daunting. With students separated into groups of four, teachers were able to give each of us plenty of attention, and within 60 minutes I went from zero knowledge to snow-plowing and stopping.

A successful Discovery Class!
A successful Discovery Class!

If I had more time before heading to DXB Airport for the flight home, I would have taken the next available course, which costs AED 230 (about $63) for 90 minutes. I left wanting to learn more — and with a great story to tell friends and family back home.

Have you been to Ski Dubai? Share your experience in the comments!

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