Snowboarding Dubai: Riding the Sand and the Shopping Mall

Snowboarding Dubai in the Desert on a Sandboard

My favorite thing about travel is experiencing the unexpected. Snowboarding Dubai on two different terrains–sand and snow (remember this is a desert)–was one of the great ironies of this fast-growing city.


Snowboard at Ski Dubai


Snowboarding in a shopping mall is a paradox, in and of itself, and the fake pines, artificial boulders, and authoritarian lift operators (who reproached me endlessly for not dropping the bar fast enough or for sitting askew on the lift) only added to this ironic winter wonderland. Ski Dubai looked like a blue-walled site of industry that had left the refrigeration up too high over night.  Unlike most mountains that post warning signs for safety, Ski Dubai had yellow signs with black Arabic writing and English translations that shouted with exclamation marks, taking it one step beyond safety, laying out the rules with an iron fist.  


Snowboarding Dubai


Snowboard at Ski Dubai


While Dubai is the fastest growing city on earth, with the world’s tallest buildings and fastest elevators, which travel at ten meters per second, Ski Dubai had the slowest chair lift, ascending the small mountain in seven minutes. It took only ten seconds to fly down the hill.


Snowboard at Ski Dubai Mall Diners


After six months of no snow, hitting the little jumps beside the lift poles and bombing down the slope to cheering locals, who actually rode the lift for fun, added to the pleasure. For those uninterested in snowboarding Dubai, the resort at Ski Dubai has penguins, Zorbing, and sledding. But it’s hard to turn down the opportunity to where the most comfortable rental boots of any ski resort.


Snowboard at Ski Dubai


Sandboarding Dubai Desert


Sandboarding Dubai Desert


Snowboarding Dubai Desert Style


Snowboarding Dubai did not end on the slopes. I took it to the sand. After dune bashing on my 4×4 desert safari with Desert Gate, I pulled up to a Bedouin village and found a collection of old snowboards with broken bindings leaning against the palm walls. Most of the boards had faded stickers and the top and bottom decks were peeling away from the core. I dragged one board up the dune and positioned my feet above the binding’s exposed screws. Without straps, turning was impossible, but the ride straight down, slowed by the friction of the desert, was certainly a worthwhile way to go snowboarding Dubai in shorts and a t-shirt.


Sandboarding Dubai Desert


Dune Bashing in the Dubai Desert 4 Wheel Drive


Note: Ski Dubai and Desert Gate hosted my adventures, as I was on a press trip sponsored by Dubai’s tourist board; but the details in this post are honest.

Sandboarding Dubai Desert

Posted on by Noah Lederman in Middle East, Somewhere, Surf & Snow

2 Responses to Snowboarding Dubai: Riding the Sand and the Shopping Mall

  1. Britany

    I tried sandboarding in Peru and it was SO much fun. I’ve never snowboarded before so I went amateur style on my stomach, which I definitely recommend to anyone who wants to go really fast without falling every few feet as I would have done standing up. Looks like the Dubai sandboarding was a blast as well!
    Britany recently posted…The Chill and Charm of Shoreline Trails in Traverse City, MichiganMy Profile

    • Noah Lederman

      Sandboarding in Peru sounds awesome. I spent all my time at this one wave in Peru–probably the greatest wave in the world–that I missed everything else, from Machu Pichu to sandboarding Peru. That will be included in my next-trip-to-Peru itinerary

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