Creating a demand for skiing

Al Najjar: You can ski all year in Dubai

ONE month shy of its first birthday, Ski Dubai’s reporting great business, according to the attraction’s general manager.

“As the first indoor ski-slope, business has been very good, with a tourist-resident mix of about 50-50,” says Ski Dubai general manager Fuad Al Najjar. “The snow park, in particular, is very popular because many of our visitors have never experienced snow before.”
Tourist business has been mainly from the GCC, with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait topping the list, but the Dubai market has held its own, with residents coming in to take ski lessons and practice their skills before heading off to winter holiday destinations elsewhere.
“Last year, being our first, cannot be a benchmark, but we do expect next year to be busier,” he tells TTN. “We have created a demand for skiing, a skiing culture, and people who visit us always want to come back.”
Al Najjar is confident that the next season will be better than last year and is optimistic the attraction will see continued growth over the years, particularly because the attraction has several deals with tour operators in place and is pursuing new relationships at trade events such as WTM and ITB. “We have a good relationship with Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and we always participate in their roadshows and at their stands at international events. So we’re getting exposure everywhere.” More events such as a recent Austrian Ski Week are also in the planning.
But surely, tourists that come to a beach destination don’t want to ski? Al Najjar disagrees: “In traditional winter markets, you can only ski from December to March at the most – here you can ski 365 days a year. You can enjoy a beach and a desert safari and go skiing all in the same day, so in a way we cater to everyone.”
Nor is he fazed by planned projects such as the Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome, or indeed, the possibility of similar projects around the Gulf, really only a matter of time. “Competition is healthy, and here at Majid Al Futtaim we’re a very innovative lot. On the other hand, Dubai is growing. Ten years ago, we would have said, ‘what’s the need for so many malls’, but there’s always potential for more and more.”