17 of the best places for thrill-seekers in the UAE

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From zip-lining to F1 cars, paintball and beyond, there’s heart-racing adventure galore to be found in the emirates – if you’re brave enough…

For land lovers

Drive really fast at Yas Marina Circuit

Get ready to… Hurtle around an F1 track in a car that can reach speeds of around 200kph.

What’s the deal? Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit offers many car experiences to Joe Public, but the best for thrill seekers has to be Formula Yas 3000. Described as, “the closest thing to an F1 car most people will ever drive,” you’ll get to wiz around in a race car armed with a 3.0 litre V6 Jaguar Cosworth engine, plus Formula One-style paddle shift gear sticks.

Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs1,380. Tel: (02) 6599800. yasmarinacircuit.com

Shoot to thrill at Sharjah Paintball Park

Get ready to… Splatter mates with paint at one of the most creative paintball arenas in the UAE.

What’s the deal? If dressing up in camo and blasting away with paint pellets gets your adrenaline pumping, then Sharjah Paintball Park comes What’s On approved, in part because it’s one of the most authentic looking arenas in the UAE. You can hide in old airplanes and helicopter shells here. What’s more, they have an indoor area for the hotter months.

Golf & Shooting Club Sharjah, Sat to Thur 9am to 11pm, Fri 7am to noon, 2pm to 11pm, Dhs85 to Dhs235. Tel: (050) 2032288. paintballuae.com 

Drift at the Autodrome

Get ready to… Make a car slide sideways at breath-taking speeds, just like in the movies.

What’s the deal? Dubai’s racing centre in Motor City offers three Prodrift packages – you can go as one of three passengers with a qualified instructor, or you can get behind the wheel yourself and learn how to handle one of the Autodrome’s blinged-up Nissan 370Zs that can go from 0-100kph in under four seconds.

Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, Dubai, Dhs300 to Dhs999. Tel: (04) 3678744. dubaiautodrome.com

Explore Battle Park UAE

Get ready to… Battle your pals in the biggest paintball arena in the Middle East.

What’s the deal? Battle Park UAE is situated near Ghantoot, and its themed playing fields cover a whopping half a million square feet. There are six zones inside – you can take part in Zombie Wars, and hide from your rivals in a field of gravestones, while Junkyard is home to car wrecks that can be used to take cover and plan attacks. They also have an indoor area for summer.

Battle Park UAE, Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to midnight, Dhs85 to Dhs285. Tel: (056) 4062999. battlepark.ae

Tame the dunes in an SUV

Get ready to… Learn how to drive a 4X4 across the UAE’s steep desert landscape.

What’s the deal? All that sand in Dubai shouldn’t be regarded as an obstacle – if you’ve got the right set of wheels, it’s a challenge. Off-road Zone offer trips to the dunes where you’ll master the art of driving off-road in the emirate. You’ll take the controls of a modified Jeep Wrangler and will follow a lead car (driven by a qualified instructor) for a fast and bumpy ride.

offroad-zone.com

Fly down the slopes on a sandboard

Get ready to… Glide down sand dunes on a board.

What’s the deal? While you can easily snowboard in Dubai, did you know its sister sport of sandboarding is also growing in popularity in the UAE? Various companies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai run trips to the dunes and the UAE has its own brand of boards – Above Sandboards not only make kit, they can help you find buddies to ride with. Above’s owner Simon Hunt claims that with the right board, amount of wax and slope gradients, you can go just as fast as you would on snow.

gulfventures.com, abovesandboards.com, abudhabidesertsafari.org

Airborne adventures

Leap from a plane over The Palm

Get ready to… Skydive through the air at over 190kph per hour.

What’s the deal? Skydive Dubai has the quickest way to get your heart pounding, by skydiving over the emirate’s spectacular skyline. There are two locations on offer – you can dive in the desert, or over the coastline, taking in views of The Palm as you fall. Beginners can fall attached to an instructor (a tandem jump), while you can also have lessons to learn how to skydive on your own.

Skydive Dubai Drop Zone, Dubai, Dhs1,699 to Dhs2,199 (tandem). Tel: (04) 3778888. skydivedubai.ae 

Fly like Superman over the Marina

Get ready to… Hurtle alongside Dubai’s skyscrapers at a hair-raising 80kph on a zip-line.

What’s the deal? Brought to you by XDubai, the people behind the zip-line over the Dubai Fountain in 2015, XLine in Dubai Marina opened in late 2017 – and Sheikh Hamdan was one of the first to have a go. The zip-line has an incline of 16° and is 1km long (it’s the longest urban zip-line in the world). You’ll be face down, flying through the air like Superman some 170m in the sky. Once launched from the ledge, you’ll go from 0-60kph in 2.5 seconds.

XLine, Dubai Marina, daily 9am to 6pm, Dhs650 single, Dhs1200 couple. xdubai.com/xline

See Jebel Jais from up high

Get ready to… Fly down the longest zip-line in the world – it’s the size of 28 football pitches.

What’s the deal? Ras Al Khaimah’s stunning Jebel Jais is home to a zip-line that is 2.83km long that through the picturesque mountains at a hair-raising 1,680 metres above sea level. If the views below aren’t enough to get your blood pumping, the speeds will – you’ll reach a jaw-dropping top speed of 150kph on your way down. Once again, you’ll be in the Superman position – belly down taking in the views as you descend.

Jebel Jais Flight: The World’s Longest Zip-line, Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah, Thur to Sun 9am to 5pm, Dhs650. Tel: (07) 2046250. toroverdeuae.com

Explore Dubai like Bond in a Gyrocopter

Get ready to… Gawp at Dubai’s skyline from a very small craft.

What’s the deal? A gyrocopter is a tiny, two-person helicopter that can reach speeds of over 100kph – James Bond fans will recognise them from the 1967 movie You Only Live Twice. You must be 17 or over to go on these trips, and weigh no more than 105kg. The craft are so tiny that trips are dependent on the weather – if it’s too windy, they won’t fly. The copter’s small size and big windows means you’ll feel like you’re flying yourself as you take in the views of The Palm and more.

Skydive Dubai Drop Zone, The Palm, Dubai, Dhs999. Tel: (04) 3778888. skydivedubai.ae

Hit the waves

Wakeboard in Ajman

Get ready to… Leap off huge jumps at the emirate’s first wake park.

What’s the deal? In the heart of Ajman, you’ll find Al Zorah Wake Park – it’s part of a new up and coming neighbourhood in the emirate and it features cables for wakeboarders, plus some jumps to get you airborne. They cater for beginners and experts. You can also try stand-up paddleboarding here and go kayaking in the Ajman mangroves. Prices for a session start at Dhs50.

alzorah.ae, questforadventure.net

Ride the waves and cables at Al Forsan

Get ready to… Water ski at almost 40kph.

What’s the deal? Al Forsan in Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa City is home to a variety of watersports, and the resort is home to the region’s first cable park. From wakeboarding to water skiing and mono skiing, it’s tailored for beginners and experts – the cables travel between 29kph and 38kph, depending on your level of experience.

Al Forsan International Sports Resort, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, wakeboarding Dhs140 to Dhs300, kit rental Dhs35 to Dhs60. Tel: (02) 5568555. alforsan.com

Surf the world’s largest manmade wave

Get ready to… Ride 7,000 litres of water!

What’s the deal? Bubble’s Barrel at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Waterworld is the world’s largest sheet wave. It’s an inclined, curved surface of soft rubber matting, onto which 1,200hp pumps release 7,000 litres of water a second. You have several choices – you can bodyboard the wave (lie on the chest and hold on to a board with hands and elbows) or sit on your knees, while experts stand and ride it like surfers on the open seas. Before you’re allowed on Bubble’s Barrel, you have to learn the basics on Rush Rider, a smaller version of the wave machine.

Yas Waterworld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 7pm, from Dhs250 for day pass. Tel: (02) 4142000. yaswaterworld.com

Ride the rapids in Al Ain

Get ready to… Tackle battle-crashing waves on a white-water experience.

What’s the deal? Al Ain’s adventure centre Wadi Adventure is home to three white-water rapid areas that cater for beginners through to experts. Expect to bounce along in a dingy with four of five mates, or on your own in a kayak, with plenty of bumps and drops off waterfalls thrown in for good measure.

Wadi Adventure, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs100 (online entrance fee), plus Dhs150 for kayaking and white-water rafting. Tel: (03) 7818422. wadiadventure.ae

Get dragged along by a kite

Get ready to… Harness the wind to ride the ocean waves on a kite surf.

What’s the deal? Kite surfing splices windsurfing, wakeboarding and paragliding into a single exhilarating package – you’ll get hauled into the air by the power of the wind before skimming the sea’s surface. Yas Kite Surf offer lessons for groups of two, three and four, plus solo lessons and equipment is included in the price.

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, timings vary, Dhs150 to Dhs350 per hour. Tel: (052) 7099797. yaskitesurf.com

Indoor adventures

Tackle snowy pistes in the desert

Get ready to… Whiz down real snow… in the desert.

What’s the deal? Dubai’s 400m indoor ski slope in the Mall Of The Emirates is ideal for a quick adrenaline fix. There are lessons available for beginners and keep an eye on their site for their freestyle nights – that’s when you can test your mettle and jump off ramps.

Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, Sun to Wed 10am to 10pm, Thur 10am to midnight, Fri 9am to midnight, Sat 9am to midnight, session pas Dhs200, all-day pass from Dhs305, private lesson from Dhs595. Tel: (04) 4094000. booking.skidxb.com

Defy gravity with indoor skydiving

Get ready to… Fly, but indoors (really).

What’s the deal? The Spacewalk at the Abu Dhabi Country Club features a vertical wind tunnel that can lift you up in the air. It features an 875-horsepower fan system, which means wind speeds can reach up to 160kph. Participants should note there is an 85kg weight limit. It’s also a sport you can try in Dubai at Ifly Dubai at Playmania (theplaymania.com). You should ideally weigh less than 105kg and it’s suitable for kids aged three and over, plus adults. The winds here reach speeds of 200kph to keep you in the air.

Various locations including Abu Dhabi Country Club, Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi, daily noon to 9pm, Dhs180 for two minutes. Tel: (02) 6577601. adcountryclub.com

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