Time Out Dubai rides the Xline zipline in Dubai, in front of Burj Khalifa and Souk Al Bahar, and over the Dubai Fountains. Check out the pictures.
Okay, there’s no point delaying – I'll just come clean. There’s supposed to a small blurb at the end of this piece that reads, "Visit www.timeoutdubai.com to see the awesome video of Matt Fortune riding XLine", the already-iconic zip line experience temporarily on offer in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa.
Instead, all you’ll find at the end of this article is a (hopefully) witty pay-off about the benefits of bringing my photographer.
The reason? I'll call it a mild panic. A tizz. Too high-pitched to be a huff, but controlled enough not to be a hissy fit. Embarrassing for a man of my age, nonetheless. Short, sharp, emotive, and, ultimately, much ado about nothing. I'll admit it: as I stared over the edge of a 90-metre drop, I got scared.
And, rather than clutch my specially purchased GoPro, I grabbed – to the point of pulled muscles in my forearms – onto the harness that was keeping me from plummeting into Burj Park. And what a shame it was, because after the split second it took to roll over the edge of the special platform atop the multistorey The Residence 3 tower, the awesomeness of the XLine experience took over and I became so in awe of the surroundings, that fear was unceremoniously dumped in the Fountain below. Child-like excitement took over, arms flailed – happy flailing, rather than panicked – and I found myself emitting unfamiliar noises like "woah", "whey" and "ooof" across Downtown Dubai. I might even have done the universal sign for "rad" (pinky and thumb outstretched, wobble your hand about a bit) in the general direction of a wedding being held on the roof of Souk Al Bahar. As far as a job application to join XLine organisers XDubai goes – almost certainly the coolest company in the emirate, after Time Out – I don’t think I’ll make the interview phase.
All this zip lining across the heart of the city started in late October, when the XLine was announced via the Instagram feed of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. A snappy video showed "Faz3" whistling down the 558-metre wire from the buildings opposite The Dubai Mall across to the roof of the shopping centre. The three posts have so far attracted more than 400,000 interactions.
So, how exactly does it feel? First, guests are given the briefest of safety briefings, consisting of little more than a couple of questions about injuries, ailments and height to determine the size of harness. The view from up here is brilliant. Down to the left, dwarfed by the Burj Khalifa, riders can peer into the Dubai Opera House construction project, while the pristine Souk Al Bahar rolls all the way along the clear blue water’s edge on the right. Straight ahead, too far to make it out clearly, is the landing platform on the roof of The Dubai Mall – it’s about 30 metres up.
When it's their turn, riders are clipped in while waiting in line. A couple of clunk and clicks, a few tugs on the straps, and you're told to take a seat, toes scratching at the lip of the platform as you bob up and down, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. “Okay buddy, when we say, just lift your legs, keep them lifted and have fun,” was the sum total of instruction I got, before being propelled forward.
Truth be told, it’s a little slower than expected, and more a feeling of amazement at something so unique rather than an adrenaline rush. I instantly regret not filming the ride, although it made a change to live in the moment rather than through the lens of my camera phone.
In all it takes less than 30 seconds. Landing is smooth, provided you’ve built up enough speed – some people get stuck short and need reeling in. A little fit of giggles was all I could muster as the team helped me back onto solid ground.
I radioed up to the photographer to remind him we need good images of all angles of the route down. Not for the magazine, of course, but so I could pass them off as my own. If only I had a video to prove it. To be in with a chance of winning an XLine experience, visit instagram.com/xdubai.