My first article in the Middle East, that too in English & Arabic. Published in Jazeera Airway’s in-flight magazine, January – February 2020 issue.
Dubai On The Fringe
Adrenaline junkies are known to go to extreme ends to get their fix of adventure. Thankfully, Dubai is not too far from any part of the world, while delivering a catalogue full of activities to keep the heart racing. If you must beat the speed records, Dubai is your racetrack. If you want to jump off a plane into a palm shaped island, Dubai is your thrill zone. If you fancy an underwater rendezvous with sharks, pack your scuba kit for Dubai. With so much to tick off your daredevilry list in a single city, Dubai is the go-to-place for death-defying sports.
Descending from cloud nine
Wonder how Dubai looks from 13,000 feet, not from the window of your flight but freefalling into the city? It’s a different kind of thrill whose even thought sends shivers down the spine of many. The gut-wrenching activity by Skydive Dubai is a must for everyone seeking adventure at almost 200km/hr descent into Palm Jumeriah, ultimately gliding through with a smile and a video ready to post on your Instagram. For a harnessed freefall, one may look at world’s longest urban zipline by XDubai that sends you down over water at 80km/hr from an elevation of 170m with breathtaking views of Dubai Marina.
To stay afloat on air, there is hot air balloon ride over the desert (a favorite among couples for proposals) that traverses at 4,000ft above the ground, with falcons for company and a supper waiting at the desert in an intimate setting. A helicopter ride over Dubai gives a hawk’s eye view of Dubai’s landmarks and validate why it’s got those records of largest, biggest, highest & tallest. The gyrocopter is a compact replica of a helicopter that delivers a unique experience as if riding in a flying car. There are paragliding & parasailing options available as well if you like to have the reins in your hand while setting the pulse racing.
Have a whale of a time in the sea of adventure
If your idea of an ideal world is under water, there is a lot that can be done in Dubai’s aquatic terrains. Immerse yourself on a discovery path at Atlantis hotel’s Ambassador Lagoon that houses over 65,000 marine animals including sharks, stingrays, fishes in every possible color and hue. Choose scuba diving or snorkeling, hand feed the sharks, swim with dolphins, explore Lost Chambers or get snapped with a sea lion. Another unique experience is Dubai Aquarium, one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums in Dubai Mall, where one could swim with crabs, water rats, sea horses, jellyfish, sand tiger sharks and others.
Taming the seas is as much a possibility with jet-skis that vroom across Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah giving you iconic views at hair-raising speeds. Try out the latest sensation – fly boarding, wherein a jet turbine propels water to shoot up to 9 meters, keeping the enthusiast stay afloat. One must ride the Seabreacher, a shark like semi-submersible watercraft that mimics the movements of a shark, diving underwater then jumping back over water. For leisurely thrills, there is kayaking, paddle or wake boarding, water skiing, banana boat riding, kitesurfing or deep sea fishing. Outside the water, you can propel yourself at 100km/hr on a human Slingshot by XDubai for a quick adrenaline rush at the Kite Beach.
If your idea of a day out is waterparks, there are countless adrenaline-pumping activities, tunnels, slides, mazes & rides at Aquaventure & Wild Wadi waterparks. Most popular at Aquaventure is the Leap of Faith which is a nine-storey near-vertical drop and Poseidon’s Revenge, which pulls out the floor off your feet for a 60km/hr plunge.
Fun travels faster than light or sound
Nothing screams adventure like a racing car darting across the circuit. Fasten your seatbelt and burn the rubber on the almost 6km track in a race or rally car of your dreams and relive the glory of a F1 race at Dubai Autodrome. The multi-sports facility accommodates your need for speed with experiences of a lifetime on thoroughbreds like Ferrari GT, Audi R8, Porche GT4, McLaren and many more. You can take these mean machines to drift, take laps and get closest to the F1 experience itself. The exhilaration is not just for adults or seasoned drivers, even kids above 7 years can ride karts at their Kartdome that features indoor & outdoor circuits. Autodrome holds world-class motorsports events & championships for cars and bikes regularly.
Uninhabitable yet hospitable
In the nothingness of vast Arabian desert where Bedouin community thrives, there exists endless possibilities for adventure seekers too. Though the charm of desert safari attracts the tourists, those looking at mind-numbing experiences can drive through the dunes, caressing its slopy contours in a hummer or any powerful 4×4. The topsy turvy terrain may be intimidating for amateurs, but no one has turned his back onto off-roading after biting the dust, such is the lure of dune bashing. The adventures are not just limited to SUVs…one can ride buggies or quad bikes to feel the crisp desert air while navigating through the sandy paths. One may even ditch the machines and glide down the dunes on a sand board, which essentially means skiing in desert instead of ice.
For experiences that are not time-bound, there is the traditional camel trek across the desert that gets extremely beautiful around sunset. A walk through desert is another way to experience the vastness and witness the time-warped charm. Explore the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve to catch the flora & fauna of this magical land including plant species, hundreds of birds, mammals & reptiles who’ve found their habitat in the desert.
Ride the amusement wagon
There’s no dearth of frightful activities one can take on in Dubai, all you need is a steady resolve for unlimited adventure and willingness to experiment. Start the journey at the world’s largest indoor theme park – IMG Worlds of Adventure. Equivalent to 28 football fields, the mega amusement park with rollercoasters, thrilling rides and entertainment is divided into 5 zones – Lost Valley, IMG Boulevard, Novo Cinemas, and crowd pleasers Marvel and Cartoon Network that feature superheroes like Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, Avengers etc.
Mix an ounce of adventure with dollops of Hollywood flair at Motiongate Dubai. Located at Dubai Parks & resorts, the Hollywood inspired theme park unites three world-famous motion picture studios: Dreamworks Animation, Columbia Pictures and Lionsgate. The park is spread across five studio zones, with each boasting thrilling rollercoasters, movie themed rides, interactive zones, theater shows, roaming entertainment and live performances.
With anything possible in Dubai, it comes as no surprise that one can roll down frozen slopes while shopping in a mall throughout the year. Experience Ski Dubai – a full-fledged ski resort in the Mall of the Emirates that houses a 22,500 sq.ft indoor ski area wherein one can ski, snowboard, ride the Bobsled, explore caverns & chalets, meet penguins, zip line across the park or take a chairlift to the top of the hill. A magical winterland in the land of desert.
The city of superlatives is more than meets-the-eye. It’s got its heart pumping and ensures your jaw drops at adventurous experiences, not just at sight-seeing.