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 Arabia’s al-Ula youth being groomed for hospitality sector

A photo taken on January 4, 2019, shows a people visiting the Hejaz train station near Saudi Arabia's northwestern town of al-Ula, an Ottoman era railway. (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s al-Ula youth being groomed for hospitality sector

  • Mihraje lauded the Kingdom for its efforts in resolving regional issues and fighting terrorism

JEDDAH: A group of 100 young men and women from the historic Al-Ula region will be sent abroad to learn French in the hope of acquiring new skills for the tourism and hospitality sector, according to Mostafa Mihraje, French consul general in Jeddah.
The statement came during a meeting that included delegations from the consulate and the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).
Hisham Kaaki, MCCI chairman, was also present at the meeting.
Mihraje lauded the Kingdom for its efforts in resolving regional issues and fighting terrorism.
“Relations between the two countries are going from strength to strength in the political, economic, trade and developmental spheres,” he said.
Mihraje called for bolstering cooperation with the MCCI by establishing a joint center with the consulate that would facilitate trade and visas.
“Up to 50,000 pilgrims come from France yearly,” he said. “The consulate issues about 62,000 visas every year.”
Kaaki said the chamber would ensure facilitating French language learning for anyone wishing to do so.”
“The Kingdom can benefit from France in the fields of tourism, transport, hospitality and training, especially since the country welcomes about 80 million tourists a year,” he said.
“Organizing the first exhibition for French catalogs in Makkah will shed light on investment opportunities. This would come at a time in which Makkah is witnessing major urban development, which can also provide ample opportunities between us.”