From skydiving to swimming with sharks, experiences money can buy
Time Out Dubai staff
With Christmas fast approaching, it's that time of year when you'll start having to think of ways to surprise your loved ones. If the usual array of socks, gadgets and novelty jumpers won't quite cut the mustard, why not try something slightly more creative? With sky diving experiences, motorsports track days and even shark walking available, there’s plenty to keep active Dubaians on their toes. And if that all sounds a little too hectic or plain frightening, why not spoil your friend or family member with a pampering spa treatment or simple round of golf? Here we look at 12 alternative gifts in the city.
Sky diving Skydive Dubai is the place to head if you fancy hurling yourself out of a plane and capturing the stunning skyline of the city from the air. The centre, which opened in 2010, has staff with an average of over 7,000 jumps under their belts making this an excellent place for a loved one to see the city in unique, safe hands. Once they’ve fallen from around 13,000ft at 210kmph and landed safely they can relax in the venue’s Skydive Dubai Café over a nice coffee. Dhs1,999 for a tandem jump with digital stills and a video. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina, www.skydubai.ae (04 377 8888).
Pick up a penguin While we’re not encouraging you to actually cuddle one of the adorable little critters, Ski Dubai, the city’s indoor snow slope, offers the opportunity for you to purchase a penguin encounter for a friend or family. Referred to as a ‘Peng-Friend’ experience, meet and greets come in different packages where you can enjoy the company of between two and 14 of the Gentoo and King Penguins for between 40 minutes and 90 minutes. Other highlights include a souvenir from your penguin encounter and a play and personal training session with the birds, as well as the chance to see them when they’re at their most graceful – underwater. Dhs145-850. Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu 10am-midnight, Fri 9am-midnight, Sat 9am-11pm. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.theplaymania.com (04 409 4090).
A month at a spa Talise Ottoman Spa at the regal Zabeel Saray is one of Time Out's favourite places to head for some rest and relaxation away from Dubai’s rat race. But you can go a step further and really spoil someone by splashing out on a month’s membership, where they get to enjoy the tranquil environment of the hotel and a 30 percent discount on treatments. Dhs30,000. Talise Ottoman Spa, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0000).
Ride the seaplane The perfect way to see the city’s iconic architecture and man-made islands, aviation nuts will be suitably impressed when they unwrap their Seawings experience during the festive season with the thrill of a water take-off and landing. If you opt for the Dubai Creek Silver package, you’ll get to enjoy sights including Dubai Creek, Palm Jumeirah and Downtown Dubai from the comfort of an air conditioned cabin. Dhs1,495 for 40 minutes. Seawings, Jebel Ali, www.seawings.ae (04 807 0708).
Supercar experience If your loved ones have always fancied getting behind the wheel of an ultra powerful performance supercar but never quite managed to obtain the cash needed to buy one of these exotic vehicles, then why not buy them an Audi R8 experience at Dubai Autodrome? Having roared down the track in one of these Audis Time Out can guarantee your gift recipient will travel very, very fast – probably with a large grin on their face around a track which its owners are hoping will be used for Formula 1 testing in 2014. Dhs1,295. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8700).
Walk with sharks Looking for something completely different to give as a gift? Send the lucky recipient to Dubai Aquarium's Underwater Zoo, where they can walk with sharks while wearing a special breathing helmet in a cage. They won't even need to get their hair wet over the course of this 25-minute adventure. Dhs590. Al Boom Diving, Dubai Aquarium, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.thedubaiaquarium.com (04 3412 2993).
Hit the skies in a chopper A surprising number of people have never experienced the thrill of a helicopter ride. Plenty of companies sell trips offering views of Dubai's spectacular skyline. Dhs795 per person (fun ride), Dhs1,250 person (city tour). Fly High Dubai Helicopter Services, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, helicoptertourdubai.com (050 248 3714).
Bungee jump in Al Quoz Surprisingly, some people actually relish the lunacy of scaring themselves witless on a bungee cord. If you know someone with that sort of personality, they’ll be pleased when they open their gift and see an experience to really get the adrenaline pumping. And if you want to be really romantic, you can bring your partner with you, too. Dhs339 (single jump), Dhs499 (tandem jump). Visit the website for available times. Gravity Zone, Al Quoz, www.gravityzone.com (056 274 5520).
Skydive inside Send friends and family to iFLY to experience weightlessness in a wind tunnel where they'll be blasted by gusts of up to 200kmph coming from two 400hp fans. Despite not being the most dignified way to spend an afternoon (floating in a tube) the staff records and photographs the event, so your gift recipient has the opportunity to snap up a souvenir to take home with them. Dhs215 (first time flyer), Dhs160 (repeat flyer). Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm. Open Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. iFly Dubai, Mirdif City Centre (04 231 6292).
Give a golf lesson gift pack If someone’s swing is a bit rusty and they seem to spend more time in the rough than on the fairway, it might be time to get them some outside assistance. With lessons that use the academy’s technology to assess aspects of a golfer's game and a holistic approach to teaching, Emirates Golf Club is a good bet for a present. From Dhs230 for a 30 minute lesson (non members). Emirates Golf Club, Emirates Hills (04 380 1234).
Buy a dune bashing day With so much sand all over the place it seems a bit of a shame not to take advantage of it from time to time. Dubai Dune Bashing offers the opportunity to ride on a 700cc buggy specifically designed to bash away at the dunes. Each buggy comes complete with a roll cage, so your precious friend or family member will be safe from harm. Dhs295. www.dubaidunebashing.com (052 904 2805).