Board silly? Check out Dubai's best board sports on snow, water and sand
It’s amazing what you can do with a plank and a bit of imagination. Sideways, sandy, snowy, salty – we give you the UAE’s best board sports.
Stand on a board and ride a wave – real or fake
Renting a board and taking lessons is currently banned on Dubai’s open beaches, so you’ll need your own equipment. Alternatively, head to Wadi Adventure in Al Ain and learn to surf in an artificial surf pool. Yes, the UAE has yet again defied nature, with a self-contained mini-sea in the middle of the desert. The clever pool creates height-adjustable waves up to 3.3metres, every 90 seconds. You won’t find a better beginners’ wave in all the seven seas. And it’s shark-free too. Phew. For an easier ride, try bodyboarding, which is essentially surfing on a shorter board lying face down.
How much? Park admission Dhs50, one hour surf lesson Dhs150.
Wadi Adventure, Al Ain, Sun to Thur 11am to 8pm, Fri and Sat 10am to 8pm, Tel: (03) 7818422. Taxi: Al Ain. wadiadventure.ae
Stand on a board and propel yourself with a long paddle
The best thing to come out of Hawaii since the flower necklace, the ‘SUP’ went global last year and suits anyone who can stay standing on the Metro. It’s a great work-out for the back and abs, too. You can take it at a leisurely pace, or paddle fast and furious if you’re the competitive type.
How much? One-hour board rental Dhs85; one-hour express lesson Dhs125; group lesson Dhs250.
Riva Beach Club, The Palm, Dubai, Tue to Sat 9am to 5pm, Mon 2pm to 5pm. Tel: (04) 3791998. Taxi: Shoreline Apartments, between buildings 7 and 8. surfshoparabia.com
Strap yourself to a board and let a big kite pull you across water
Kites were once something you brought back from school to show mum. Now kites are cool. One for speed freaks, kitesurfing is the world’s fastest non-motorized watersport – 95kph, anyone? The jumps you can pull are pretty nuts too. Xavier at Kitefly Dubai will get you confident flying a power kite on land before you hit the water at a later stage. Trust him on this.
How much? Dhs250 for a one-hour lesson.
Kite Beach, behind Sunset Mall, between Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and Jumeirah Beach Park. Tel: (055) 2049266. Taxi: Sunset Mall. kitesurf.ae
Stand on a board and hold up a sail to catch the wind
A close rival to kitesurfing in the speed stakes, windsurfing enjoyed a global boom in the 1980s when it became an Olympic sport. Beginners will have no problem sailing on a wide board in a light wind, but the fun really starts when you begin planing in stronger winds.
How much? Two-hour introductory course, Dhs500.
Watercooled, Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Dubai, daily 9.30am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 8876771. Taxi: Jebel Ali Golf Resort. watercooleddubai.com
Kneel on a board and let a speedboat pull you by a rope
By taking standing out of the equation, kneeboarding is one of the easier tow sports, yet one of the most fun because you’re so close to the water. Just as you start to get cocky, you’ll face-plant without warning and come up spluttering, but happy.
How much? Dhs150 for 15 minutes.
Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh Road, Jumeirah Beach, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3993333. Taxi: Le Méridien Mina Seyahi. lemeridien-minaseyahi.com
Stand on a board and ride down a sand dune
Bedouin on camelback once traversed the deserts of Arabia – now you’ll find expats on sandboards. The board design borrows from snowboarding, with bindings to secure your feet as you beeline it down a dune. Not just some tourist gimmick cooked up in the UAE, sandboarding enjoys a global following. To give it a go, Arabian Adventures runs a Rides And Slides package, which includes a camel ride. The most fun you’ve had in sand since that holiday in Magaluf.
How much? Dhs275 per person.
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, every morning in winter except Tue. Tel: (04) 2144888. arabian-adventures.com
Stand on a board with foot straps and let a speedboat pull you by a rope
Hit the boat’s wake at speed and you’ll soar skywards – with a bit of practice you’ll even land. The pros ride up kickers (jumps) and sliders (rail bars) to really show off. For beginners, the friendly instructors at Watercooled will have you up on your feet in no time. For an extra challenge, try wakesurfing – like wakeboarding but without the foot straps.
How much? Dhs145 for 20 minutes.
Watercooled, Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Dubai. Daily 9.30am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 8876771. Taxi: Jebel Ali Golf Resort. watercooleddubai.com
Stand on a board and shoot down a snowy mountain
The indoor snow slope at Ski Dubai provides lessons for beginners and all the equipment you need, except a hat and gloves. The Ski Dubai instructors will have you linking turns and you’ll soon want to hit the real mountains. And, yes, it’s -4°C in there, so wrap up folks.
How much? One-hour lesson Dhs150.
Ski Dubai, Mall Of The Emirates, Dubai, daily until 11pm (midnight Thur and Fri). Tel: (04) 4094242. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates. skidxb.com
Stand on a wooden plank with wheels and use your foot to propel yourself
If you’ve spent hours playing Tony Hawk on the PlayStation but never tried the real thing, now’s your chance. An air-conditioned indoor skate park opens this month in Al Quoz, details of which will soon follow. Lessons and board/kit rental are available for beginners, so you’ll be pulling ollies, flips and grinds before you know it.
WATCH THIS SPACE…..
Stand on a board and let a board-mounted jet pod propel you across water. Avid surfer Mike Railey has spent the past ten years perfecting Wavejet boards at his home in San Diego. The result is a mini jet ski propulsion system that fits into the base of a surfboard. The rider controls the throttle with a wrist controller, and the power cuts out automatically when the rider falls. The board can reach 7mph and helps surfers catch waves they could once only catch with a jet ski tow-in. wavejet.com
MEANWHILE, in the desert…
Camels will roar down sand dunes on table tops in the world’s first camel boarding race.
The landmark event will be held on a 100km track in the UAE on April 1, 2015 – exactly one year from now – and has already attracted the attention of the world’s top camel owners.
The weight and size of camels mean regular sandboards are not big enough to carry the animals. Therefore, a carpentry firm in Al Quoz has been commissioned to build massive sandboards out of dining tables. Each table – minus its legs – will be fitted with four leather straps to hold each of the camel’s hooves in place as they race down huge sand dunes at speeds of up to 110km per hour.
To find out more about this unbelievable announcement, click here.