The great outdoors: Adventures in Dubai

Balloon Adventures in Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 09 January 2019
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The great outdoors: Adventures in Dubai

  • The cooler weather in Dubai calls for some adventure
  • Enjoy different kinds of activities available throughout the city

DUBAI:Those living in the UAE have been enjoying the cooler months recently, but blink and it will all soon be over to make way for Ramadan and then the summer months (speaking of which, where did 2018 go?).
The great weather provides the chance to sign up for new activities and tick experiences off the bucket list. So, give the beach a miss one weekend (or on your next staycation), and try something new instead. We managed to cross the following off in 48 hours.

XLine Dubai Marina
Most people explore Dubai Marina via the walkways or from a venue’s balcony, but nothing matches checking it out from the sky.
XLine Dubai Marina had been on my list for the longest time, but I never quite got around to signing up for it. Until I was challenged to take it on — so, challenge accepted!
For those familiar with the original zip-line experience over Dubai Fountain in Downtown, the second version of the ride is arguably better, since it’s twice the distance and features a double line, meaning you can share the experience with a friend. There are prerequisites: participants must be aged 12 to 65, taller than 130cm, and weigh between 50 and 100kg.
Nothing quite prepares you for just how high the starting point — from one of the Amwaj Towers — is: 170 meters above the ground. And that’s probably the scariest part, since you’re left to look over the building’s edge while the staff check all the harnesses and safety equipment. But once they let you go, it’s a feeling like no other — flying over the water and roads of Dubai Marina at an average speed of 80 km/hr. It’s over before you know it, and you’ll want to do it again. Not recommended for those with a fear of heights, obviously.

XDubai Slingshot
If being launched up into the air is more your thing than a downward trip, then XDubai has a different experience for you at Kite Beach. This human slingshot sees you strapped in, suspended four meters up, pulled up to 40 meters back, then fired through the air. Within half a second, you can reach 100 km/hr, experiencing acceleration of up to 4 g. Oh, yes.
Don’t worry, you won’t go flying off into the sea — you remain strapped in at all times. But prepare to go back and forth for a bit. Consider it an extreme swing.

Laguna Water Park
All that flying around will leave you wanting to cool down, and close to Kite Beach is the outdoor retail and dining area La Mer Dubai, which is now also home to the city’s latest waterpark, Laguna. This family-friendly venue is split into four themed areas: Relax, Slide, Splash and Surf. Some are suitable for all, while others are for those who prefer a bit of adventure.
One of the highlights is the Free Fall, where you enter a glass capsule and wait for the ‘trap door’ to open underneath you. Cue a long drop into the splashdown lane.

Balloon Adventures Dubai
The early wake-up call is worth it. Balloon Adventures offers a lovely experience, including a falconry show and breakfast in the desert. Once you’re out over the dunes, you’ll experience sunrise in the emirate and share airspace with one of nature’s most beautiful birds, the falcon (who comes along for the ride as the show takes place from the sky).
Note to editor: EMBED VIDEO (for web version, if you like): https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=42&v=byibbyGOvDQ

Motiongate Dubai
Finish off the day with an evening at Dubai Parks & Resorts, where my personal highlight, Motiongate Dubai, is based (Bollywood Parks comes a close second). It’s probably the closest thing you’ll find to Disneyland or Universal Studios in the region, and is definitely worth a visit. Attractions include DreamWorks, featuring rides based on “Kung Fu Panda,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Madagascar,” and “Shrek.” Then there’s Columbia Pictures, home to Hotel Transylvania, Zombieland Blast-off, and Ghostbusters: Battle for New York. The little ones will love Smurfs Village, with its Woodland play park, and Smurfberry Factory.

Top Tip
Of course, all these experiences can add up, but you can get much more for less via the new Dubai Pass, available online. This discount card offers two packages — one with three experiences for up to 50 percent less than regular prices, and the other combining 33 experiences for up to 60 percent less.


Saudi entrepreneur aims to revive Al-Balad

Saudi entrepreneur Abdullah Al-Hodaif has been passionate about art all his life. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Saudi entrepreneur aims to revive Al-Balad

  • Abdullah Al-Hodaif’s passion for art has led him to invest in a wide range of cultural projects

JEDDAH: Thirty-two-year-old Saudi entrepreneur Abdullah Al-Hodaif has been passionate about art all his life. He started collecting paintings in his warehouse when he was only six years old. By the time he was 16, his warehouse was filled with vintage art pieces.
After attaining his master’s degree from abroad, he was inspired by Saudi Vision 2030 upon his return to the Kingdom.
Today, Al-Hodaif has redecorated four buildings in Jeddah’s popular tourist attraction, Al-Balad.
They house Bait Al-Hodaif, a non-profit art organization, and include a small museum that consists of 14 rooms and displays items from the 1910s to the 1980s: artwork, photographs, newspapers and magazines, and nostalgic games such as Carrom, currencies from different Arab countries and more.
“It displays old Hejazi interiors, visitors can see how kitchens used to be, an old Majlis and games, televisions, newspapers. People can even host events there,” Al-Hodaif told Arab News.
Bait Al-Hodaif creates annual campaigns to redecorate the streets of Jeddah with graffiti and different artwork. Last Ramadan, they created eight projects in districts such as Al-Karantina, Al-Petromin and Al-Aziziyah.

BACKGROUND

• Bait Al-Hodaif’s mission is to promote Saudi art culture.

• The buildings of his projects are over 200 years old.

• Values: beauty, peace, kindness, giving, persistence and love.

• Bait Ziryab was named after Iraqi composer Ziryab.

• 90% of Bait Ziryab’s students are female.

“In the poorer areas, we created artwork in different districts and held recycling workshops for children. The aim of the artworks on the wall is to create a cheerful image for the children, for them to see one of their favorite cartoon characters on the wall,” Al-Hodaif told Arab News.
“We worked under seven values: Beauty, peace, kindness, giving, persistence and love. We paint the language of love and peace on the walls.
“This year, we created a project called Arbab Al-Jamal to beautify areas in Al-Balad — as seen on the roof of Al-Hodaif Museum — for all of Ramadan. The goal is to complete 11 artworks by the end of Ramadan.”
Al-Hodaif Museum consists of six floors and is one of the tallest buildings in Al-Balad.
“It offers weekly art workshops and classes for pottery, sketching and other forms of art. It also hosts events on a monthly basis, be they cultural, poetic, cinematic or musical.”
The museum also houses contemporary art. “I want the youth to come to historic Jeddah, not to see something old. Visitors have seen plenty of that. What I want to do is bring them through modern art and something new. The youth don’t want to see an old car or an old radio, they want to see art, but I want to show them art in a historic site.”
Al-Hodaif’s goal is not to bring back the past.

HIGHLIGHtS

• Provide a service that supports the thriving art scene in Saudi Arabia.

• Discover and support local artists and showcase their work locally and internationally.

• Provide the space and equip the artists with the appropriate resources to work.

• Instill values of peace through art.

• Offer educational workshops and courses to develop the skills of young talents.

“We combined the modern with the old. We are very much with the present times,” said Al-Hodaif.
Bait Ziryab is a music school that teaches Arabic music and promotes Arabic music culture. It offers lessons in Arabic instruments such as the oud, qanun and ney, and also offers lessons in Western instruments such as the piano.
“It was named after the most famous musician in Andalusia, Iraqi composer Ziryab, who migrated to Andalusia and was the first to open a music school that teaches the oud in Andalusia, and he taught the daughters of kings,” he told Arab News
Al-Hodaif established Arbab Al-Heraf, a platform that promotes the art and culture of Saudi Arabia, with a branch in Al-Balad and another in Al-Basateen district.