The great outdoors: Adventures in Dubai

Balloon Adventures in Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 09 January 2019

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):

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.

Malaysia welcomes its first durian-friendly hotel

An overview of the Durian Research Center. (AN photo)
Updated 16 July 2019

Malaysia welcomes its first durian-friendly hotel

  • Tan sees the resort’s agritourism ecosystem as a long-term goal toward creating a platform for durian research and cultivation

KUALA LUMPUR: Durians are known for their distinct, pungent smell, which many foreigners describe as a combination of rotten onions and old socks. As such, most hotels in Asia forbid the fruit on their premises.
But with the rising popularity of durians among locals and foreign tourists, Malaysia is welcoming its first durian-friendly hotel and resort.
Situated an hour from Kuala Lumpur’s city center, the beautiful, scenic Bangi Golf Resort includes a hotel overlooking a golf course, and an agriculture farm.
“When you first go into any hotels, you usually see the signs ‘durian is not allowed’ or ‘durian is forbidden’,” said Tan Ban Keat, director of the resort. “We soften the tone for the hotel to be ‘durians are allowed in durian-friendly zones’.”
Hotel patrons can buy, eat and bring durians to designated zones throughout the resort.
“We’re actually the first hotel to practice that,” said Tan, adding that he does not believe the move will prompt other hotels in Malaysia to follow suit.
“It doesn’t do anything to their business. We do it because we grow durians on the premises. We have the annual durian festival … and we’ll include the Durian Research Center in the near future,” he said.


Musang Kings are considered premium durians due to their intense yet well-balanced, custardy sweet taste. They are the premier durians for export to China and other overseas markets.

Tan expressed his hope that the center, which is under construction, will become a premier research hub for better durian breeds.
“I hope to create a Super Musang King,” he said. Musang Kings are considered premium durians due to their intense yet well-balanced, custardy sweet taste. They are the premier durians for export to China and other overseas markets.
Tan sees the resort’s agritourism ecosystem as a long-term goal toward creating a platform for durian research and cultivation.
“These durian-friendly zones are created to be a platform for agriculture. Durians have a place in many people’s hearts. They’re a national treasure,” he added.