‘Everyone compares bungee jumping to skydiving,’ explains Ramez Shawky, founder of Dubai’s Gravity Zone, which has just launched the city’s first permanent bungee spot. ‘I’d say it’s more difficult, because to jump is your own decision. The first time you go skydiving you’re attached to a professional.’
Located in Al Quoz, the company also plans to launch a giant human catapult, a zip wire and abseiling to its repertoire. At one point the team had broached the subject of operating a bungee jump from either Garhoud or Maktoum Bridge, only to be told ‘no way’. Luckily, the Gravity Zone jump is operated from a crane, which leaves room for the possibility of setting up in other locations around the UAE – Ramez says he’s already had many inquiries from ‘well-known local landmarks’.
Despite the supposedly niche nature of the sport, Ramez explains that in the six weekends since it launched (the site is only open on Fridays and Saturdays), Gravity Zone has welcomed between 500 and 600 jumpers, and slots are now booked up well in advance. As a result, they’ve had to turn down spur-of-the-moment clients and last-minute bookings.
At the moment, the jump is set at 50 metres, and though the facility has the option to increase this, Ramez is planning to stick to the lower setting for at least the first few months. ‘People think that doesn’t sound high, but it’s like jumping off the balcony from a 16th-floor apartment.’
When it comes to the actual jump, he explains there is no pressure on clients. ‘You have to be relaxed.
We don’t push anyone – if you’re not comfortable doing it, you go down. It’s just you and your decision.’ But unless money is no object, you might want to think twice. Once you’ve ascended to the cage and find yourself standing on the edge, you’re already financially committed: if you just can’t do it, you still need to cough up. ‘It depends on the situation, but 95 percent of the time you’ll have to pay. Otherwise we’ll get people wasting the time of other jumpers in the queue.’
Aside from having steely nerves, there are certain criteria you’ll need to meet: jumpers must be between the ages of 14 and 50, and weigh less than 120kg. If you’re an adventurous over-50-year-old, Ramez is happy to let you jump – as long as you provide a letter from your doctor saying you’re in good enough health. Partner jumps are currently proving popular (the weight restriction rises to 217kg for a couple), and hugging and holding each other tight is one of the safety measures. ‘Usually we get louder screams on the tandem than on the single,’ he laughs.
If you’re worried about safety, Ramez is adamant all measures are in place to make sure the site is as secure as possible. ‘We really stress that safety is at the core of our operation, and we make sure people understand we have three backup systems, so if one went wrong there would be two others to take the load of the jumper.’
If hanging from a rope by your feet isn’t for you, Gravity Zone will soon launch a human catapult, which will propel you through the air onto an air bag. And no, it’s nothing like skydiving.
Single jump Dhs339, tandem jump Dhs499. Gravity Zone, Power Play Football Centre, opposite Dubai Bowling Centre, interchange 2, Sheikh Zayed Road (056 364 8778).
Three more sports to scare your insurers
Plummet through the skies from 4,000m over the Palm Jumeirah or red dunes of the desert.
From Dhs1,750 including videographer. Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 377 8888).
Try your hand at dirtbiking on a motocross track, complete with expert instruction. What better way to prepare for the Red Bull X-Fighters in April?
From Dhs990 per person. MX-Academy (050 951 1151).
Take a ride under a motorised canopy and cruise over the beaches of Ras Al Khaimah.
Dhs250 for 20 minutes. Jazirah Aviation Club, Ras Al Khaimah (050 694 1455).