Motorised watersports in the UAE

Time Out takes a look at some of the more popular engine-powered pastimes to grace the Gulf


The younger, and let’s face it, cooler, sibling to waterskiing requires a sideways stance, rather than the hovering-over-a-toilet-bowl squat required by its older brother. A similar technique is used; you lift yourself out of the water while leaning back and keeping your back straight, however there’s the added twist of, well, twisting. Once you’re up, though, it’s pretty easy and when you feel confident enough, you can try your hand at jumps and even flips. It all looks very impressive – until, that is, you fall flat on your face in spectacular style. Wakeboarding is a pricey pastime, with many places charging per 15 minutes. This may seem like a very short period, but wakeboarding is tiring stuff. If you’re a novice, you will probably have to lift yourself out of the water more than a few times, and the next day you could struggle to lift a feather thanks to your aching forearms. You will also need to develop a taste for seawater – you’ll be snorting and swallowing litres of the stuff.
A 20-minute lesson at Club Mina will set you back Dhs220.


If you fancy smashing through the waves like a super-rich maniac, this is the sport for you. For the uninitiated, powerboats tend to be lightweight, with a V-shaped hull that runs almost half-way under the boat. They handle like very-agile jet-skis, making for fantastic planning (that’s skimming the waves at up to 150mph to you and me). Amazingly, having a certificate isn’t compulsory in the UAE, but we say better to be safe than sorry. The Royal Yacht Academy-approved power one and two certificate can be completed in Dubai with Blue Sail Yachts as a three-day course that takes you from classroom-based lessons to high-speed manoeuvres on the open sea. Alternatively, the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club offers a two-day course going straight in at power two.

The next steps would usually be intermediate and advanced courses, but these are currently unavailable in Dubai – instead, you can do the Day Skipper with Blue Sail Yachts, which splits into theory and practical with each component lasting five days. Even after this, you will still be unable to rent a powerboat unaccompanied by a skipper, as all companies in Dubai stipulate that the owner or an appointed skipper must be onboard. The best option, perhaps, is a powerboat ride courtesy of the good people at Yellow Boats, a relatively new venture that launches from Abu Dhabi Marina Mall and whips you along a whacky route seemingly scribbled down by a boss-eyed child. The company has four distinct tours that take in the usual sites, but we recommend the 30-minute thrill ride (adults, Dhs100; kids Dhs75; family, Dhs300) that guarantees a soaking as well as an elevated heart rate.
800 4043 ;


Jet-skiing is currently regulated across the UAE so it isn’t as widely available as you might think. Super Jets, based in Abu Dhabi, does however rent Jet-skis by the hour so you can go out on your own or, perhaps more sensibly, cling to the back of a professional. Career along the corniche at super speed – it’s like a fairground ride, only potentially fatal, and takes a great deal of skill from the driver. Particularly exhilarating are the 180-degree turns where, trust us, you will get unceremoniously dunked.
A one-hour session with Super Jets costs Dhs150. Contact Sahar on 050 699 9443 for further details


Like Bambi on ice (if Bambi’s legs were broken) – that’s the only way to describe Time Out’s first attempt at waterskiing. Yes, it looks fairly easy to the uninitiated, but bobbing in the sea, knees up, feet in skis in preparation for lift-off, it suddenly doesn’t seem quite so simple. We were told the hardest part would be trying to stand up – unfortunately for us that was the only part. After 40 minutes (in temperatures getting chillier by the minute), inadvertently swallowing a few pints of saltwater and countless attempts at the ‘stand-up’, we called it a day. If it were a few degrees warmer we’d have stuck it out long enough to master the initial technique, but alas our sense of balance (and pride) took too much of a battering to go on.
A 15-minute lesson with Dubai Watersport Academy (04 366 3538) costs Dhs150.

Tips from the pros

Stretch out
Before and after you go on the water, have a good stretch, concentrating on your back, arms and legs.

Get up slowly
By far the most common beginner error is trying to stand up too quickly when the rope starts to pull. Start in the water with your knees bent right up to your chest, arms straight and outside your knees. As the rope starts to pull, keep your arms straight and slowly start to stand. Keep your shoulders level and the rope between your skis.

Stand upright
Once you’re up, your head should be directly over your feet. It’s a bit like rollerskating: if you lean too far back, you’ll immediately fall over backwards; too far forward, and you’ll go flat on your face. Ouch.

Eyes up
Always look ahead, either at the horizon or at the boat; looking down at your skis will unbalance you. If you feel yourself losing balance and falling, let go of the rope – don’t hold on and get dragged along. That’s just painful... and embarrassing.

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