Downtown Dubai is undoubtedly one of the most exciting places on the planet right now. It’s dynamic, noisy, bustling, constantly evolving and offers everything the discerning traveller could need, from luxury hotels to world-class restaurants and chic cocktail bars. But for those keen to escape the heart of the metropolis, Dubai also offers breath-taking desert landscapes, all within an easy ride from the centre of the capital. It’s here that one of the Middle East’s hottest crazes, sandboarding, is really taking off.
Essentially snowboarding on massive sand dunes, it’s the perfect way of seeing another side to the Emirate and taking in some spectacular scenery while enjoying an adrenaline rush. Even if you’ve never even tried your hand at winter sports, there’s nothing to stop you joining locals and tourists alike in enjoying one of the coolest sports around. Expert instructors take visitors on regular ‘sandboarding safaris’ out of the capital, with transport in air-conditioned 4×4 vehicles and full instruction included. Not only is the sport incredibly easy to pick up, it’s also a lot safer than snowboarding, not least since it’s generally slower and, of course, it’s hard to injure yourself falling onto a soft sand dune. As well as the thrill of slipping and sliding down giant dunes, sandboarding safaris also offers curious guests the chance to learn more about the fascinating history and geography of Dubai.
In addition to being experts in the sport, the guides are often more than happy to share tales of the region, not least how it has developed over recent years, meaning the journey into the desert is more like a guided tour than a simple taxi ride. This doesn’t mean, of course, that this is a fun, laid-back day out. Climbing up the dunes and then sliding down them is hard work, especially in the Dubai heat, so it’s not an excursion for the faint at heart or the physically unfit. But then, the prospect of returning to a luxury hotel and unwinding in an award-winning spa in downtown Dubai is often more than enough incentive to climb one more dune and risk another fall.