Friday, March 5, 2010

Winter wonderland...

One of the more prominant "we can do anything we please" landmarks here is the indoor ski slopes and snow playground called Ski Dubai. So it may be 120 degrees, and, you know, desert, outside. So what? We have snow anytime we want.

That attitude makes me kind of happy in an utterly irresponsible and giddy sort of way. Quite frankly, you'd have to be awfully cynical to not grin at Arabs cavorting in the snow, the abaya-clad women sliding around on innertubes, and kids who have only ever seen sand now all bundled up, sledding, rolling around and throwing snowballs at one another. For me, seeing a group of Middle Eastern kids making snow angels for the very first time of their lives is up there as a pretty great experience.

Ski Dubai rises from the Mall of the Emirates along our major freeway, Sheikh Zayed road, in a distinctive silver curve that can best be described as massive, about 25 stories tall, beneath which we locals know is a convenient place to park your car out of the sun. It's enormous as it holds the slope, including several runs, the ski lift, and a Swiss-esque chalet halfway up where, reportedly, you can get the Emirate's best hot chocolate. Apparently among the foam and cream and marshmallows it has gooey wet M&Ms in it.

I like the ice sculptures, and the pine trees dusted with snow, well, who knows if they're real...that's not really the point. Reality is not the point. At all.

Ski Dubai provides all the equipment, as well as helmets, snowsuits, boots, and photographers to document the experience, the works. Ski instructors at the ready, you can do as little or as much as you want in the snow. It's an impressive operation.

Every visitor to Dubai must go and look at this place at least once, stand in front of the enormous windows and get a photo taken. For more advanced viewers in the know it's especially nice to sit in one of the surrounding restaurants and watch snowboarders getting funky in the pipe and skiers fly off the jump, the experience being further enhanced if happen to be enjoying one of Apres' inventive cocktails while looking out over the scene.

You can even pretend it's cold outside.

Now you know all my tricks.

Bethy getting geared up

For some reason our family hasn't actually gone into Ski Dubai yet, but Bethy has. Once on a school field trip and then she came home the other day with an invitation to her classmate Arya's "cool" (of course) birthday Ski Dubai.

Now, the way it works here is that you invite all the kids in the class to your child's party. This means we have lots of parties to go to and lots of presents to buy, so I decided early on the thing to do was to buy lunchboxes or backpacks with characters the child likes and fill them with art supplies. Kids here have lots of toys, I like the creativity angle.

For Arya, a child I couldn't immediately place in my memory, I went and bought a pink heart Disney Princesses lunchbox and filled it with sparkly, fruit scented, and more Princess art materials. No girl would be able to resist, right? Even found a Princesses bag and put shiny tissue paper on the top and a big pink bow.

Bethy had just enough time to get off the school bus, change into pants and a long sleeved shirt before it was time to go to the party. I asked her if she wanted to see what "we" got Arya.

Her face immediately fell at the wealth of fluffy pink girliness. "Maaaahm!" she wailed, "Arya won't like THAT! He's a boy!"

Oh, crumbs. Best laid plans.

Thomas has, on more than one occasion, burst out with "we are SO late!" as we're getting into the car. Wonder where he picked that up from? Anyway, this time it was extemely appropriate when he let it rip.

"What does Arya like?" I queried Bethy as we made a desperate last minute scramble to our neighborhood Hallmark.

"He told me he wants an iPod", she replied, all innocence.


Despite having to make the emergency stop for a suitable "boy" gift, (emphatically NOT an iPod!) speed wrapping and the inevitable Thursday afternoon traffic (Thursday being the end of the work week here), we managed to make it to the Mall of the Emirates, somehow found a parking spot, and got Bethy to Ski Dubai where she was sufficiently wrapped up against the cold and had what was obviously a fabulous time out in the white stuff.

Bethy running around in the snow at Ski Dubai

And that was before the magician and the (mmm) birthday cake.

I would also like to say that Arya liked his gift very much.

Even though it wasn't an iPod.


dorothy said...

My Birthday is in 2 weeks (choke 42)and I WANT AN IPOD and SKIING!!!!!!!!

Joanna said...

Good times! The apres cocktail part sounds especially good. :)

Anonymous said...

So when are they going to host the winter Olympics? Given the miserable weather at Whistler in the real world this might just work.
google not recognizing my password ergo to h with it.

Friendly Neighborhood Librarian said...

Are you goint to tell us what you did purchase?
I hope it was still art supplies. I love art supplies as a gift!

Natalie said...

Dot: happy almost birthday! 42 is the answer to answer to life the universe and everything, so that can't be all bad. We hope!

Jo: they stopped creating my favortie, the fig-vanilla martini. It was the very definiton of tasty scrumptious, but I've moved past my grief and make do, somehow.

Mumsy: As soon as they finish building the mountain range I heard about from Joanna.

and Gerry: The last minute boy gift was a Crayola Glow Station, which has a "special light-sensitive canvas that reacts to a light-wand and allows kids to be creative over and over again." It is pretty neat...and of course now Bethy wants one! We are in negotiations, she got an Amazon gift certificate from Mumsy there that is about the same value, so I can get her the Crayola station and she can get me more books, hooray!