Snowboarding in the Desert? Welcome to Dubai!

Snowboarding in the Desert? Welcome to Dubai!

Prior to visiting the Middle East, we had visions of hot, dry desert landscapes with giant sand dunes and rocky sandstone mountains. Although the emirate of Dubai is technically located in the desert, the global mega-city certainly does not fit this image.

One of the top attractions in Dubai is “Ski Dubai”, an indoor ski hill connected to the Mall of the Emirates. The idea of snowboarding or skiing in the Middle East contradicts logical thinking, which instantly had us intrigued.

Dubai’s heat and humidity is unforgiving. Without question, it’s the hottest city we have ever visited (it didn’t help that we visited during the summer). Heck, even the public bus stops are air-conditioned! 

Our minds struggled with the notion that we could actually experience snow in such a hot and humid environment. Although we were on tight backpacker budget, we had to give it a try because it’s one of the more interesting Dubai attractions available for a reasonable price (about $50 CDN).

After all, it’s not every day that one can say they went snowboarding in the desert!

Click on the image below to see some of our video footage from inside Ski Dubai

Having trouble viewing the video image? Watch here – Snowboarding in Dubai

We visited Dubai on our backpacking trip around the world, meaning we were ill-prepared for snowboarding. We entered Ski Dubai in shorts and flip flops, crossing our fingers that we could rent outwear and equipment. Fortunately, in typical Dubai fashion, within minutes we were completely sorted from head to toe.

How was the snowboarding?

It actually wasn’t too bad! We went in with limited expectations, for obvious reasons. After all, we’re used to snowboarding in Whistler, Canada’s top ski mountain.

It’s not a big ski hill and certainly doesn’t have steep powder runs, but the snow is surprising soft and fast. It’s a decent representation of typical outdoor conditions and it does a good job of satisfying that snowboarding and/or skiing itch.

Ski Dubai

View of the indoor ski hill and sledding park from inside the Mall of the Emirates.
Dubai shopping malls are quite extravagant to say the least!

Gearing up to Snowboard in Dubai

Gearing up to go snowboarding in Dubai.
Notice the flip flops – it’s not everyday you switch from flip flops to snowboard boots!

Stairs to the Main Slope?

Have you ever taken an escalator to the Main Slope of a ski hill?
Sweet rockin’ retro outerwear too!

Ski Dubai - Indoor Ski Hill

Nicole at the base of the ski hill.
We were in Dubai during a Muslim holiday, which is why the park was so empty.

Indoor Ski Hill in Dubai

Top of the ski hill. You can get an idea of the snow quality by looking beside our feet.

Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates

Outdoor views of the Ski Dubai Indoor Ski Hill and The Mall of the Emirates.


Have you ever experienced an indoor ski hill? What did you think?
Share you story in the comments section below!

About Traveling Canucks

Cam and Nicole Wears are newbie parents living in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. A passion for travel and outdoor adventure has taken them to over 70 countries on 6 continents in the past 10 years. Learn more about their story here. Follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their monthly newsletter.