A Skier’s Journey: Dubai

Every night in Dubai it snows

Dubai is the unlikeliest of ski destinations, but it has a local ski hill. Its 200 vertical feet of air conditioning and desalinated frozen ocean rising up out of a shopping mall. And the “mountain” has its locals: Emirati dreaming of winter, ex-pats from the Alps, who carve GS turns down the manmade slopes. You can ski every day, for 12 hours a day. And, as Jordan Manley and Chad Sayers found out, a turn feels the same just about anywhere.

See the first episode of “A Skier’s Journey: Japan” here.

[Update] When we posted this story it stirred up some blowback about the environmental responsibility of manmade skiing, and whether we should be promoting skiing in the heart of the desert. Jordan Manley and his co-director David Irvine chimed in. Here’s what they had to say about Dubai:

Why did we go to Dubai?

The A Skier’s Journey series hasn’t necessarily been about promoting each location, though we’ve fallen in love with more than one place along the way. The series has been a survey of the global landscape of skiing as it exists, in its many forms.

The not-so-great ecological story of Dubai is well known and documented. At the same time, and in spite of this, in the midst of this, there seemed to be a real skiing community here. This contradiction, the fact that both of these things might be true, made us uncomfortable. Can something be real and good, even if it is predicated on so much that is not?

It was fascinating to meet someone who had never skied outdoors, whose entire ski experience was produced by an impressively engineered and incredibly energy intensive facility. And that, at the end of the day, it harnessed just enough gravity, made just enough snow, to maybe just look like, and maybe just feel like skiing. As someone whose idea of skiing is so closely related to the idea of being outside in the mountains, I found it fascinating to meet someone that shared a passion for skiing, yet had so many of the elements that I cherish stripped away from it. In some ways, what we found was modest, raw skiing.

Ultimately, this episode was made to explore a different kind of skiing, and hopefully it would lead to the internal question, “What is skiing?” Why do we love it? What are the elements (community? the physical motion of it? your environment?) that make it special and real to each of us?

Dubai sits at the extreme edge of what might be considered a ski location/culture. Probing at the margins of skiing, where the most romanticized elements of modern downhill skiing become stripped away, we felt was the best place to ask these questions.

—Jordan Manley and Daniel Irvine (directors)

Add a comment

  • Craig

    Dubai…. Go hang with the desert folks. Cheap oil, insanely rich….on top of it all…they Are not very nice to women….ski where the snow is

  • lena

    Congratulations on you guys for making an awesome video – a tribute to the skiers’ passion and soul. In this 10 min one can see, that as long as we want something – it is possible! Don’t get me wrong, I bet when SOMEONE was creating our planet, he made the desert a desert for a reason:)

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