The UAE is a fantastic place to live. It offers an easy lifestyle, multiple career opportunities and, for a good part of the year, an absolutely perfect climate.
However, at this stage of summer, many of us are starting to get tired of the constant heat and humidity. It’s not uncommon to find yourself longing for pleasantly cool winter evenings, or even fantasizing about the sensation of a heavy downpour in the temperate-zone.
However, if — unlike the rest of your social media feed — you’re currently unable to jet off to cooler temperatures, there’s no need to despair. We’ve collated a list of the coolest and most icy activities in the UAE.
CRYO Stay Young at Abu Dhabi Country Club
Despite exposing the body to temperatures as low as -140 degrees Celsius, cryotherapy isn’t quite as extreme as it sounds. By cooling the skin, the therapeutic process is known to help boost blood circulation, reduce inflammation, aid weight loss and provide other significant benefits. Over at Abu Dhabi Country Club, the popular whole-body cryo treatment is also said to help cure insomnia, and generally boost your mood by prompting the release of some feel-good endorphins. So, if your physical or mental health has been somewhat neglected during these hotter months, this could be just the pick-me-up you need.
The morning hike at Ski Dubai
Tired of battling searing temperatures during your morning walk? Well, at Ski Dubai you can start your day with a refreshing burst of exercise in the cold air, and you don’t even need to know how to ski or snowboard. Just grab a pair of hiking boots and join the rest of the city’s outdoor adventure enthusiasts for a hike up and down Dubai’s only snowy peaks. Providing both a great workout and a welcome break from the humidity, marching up the 85-meter slopes in minus temperatures is super refreshing and invigorating. Plus, with sessions starting from 8am, you might even be able to complete your daily step count before you take a seat at your desk. Packages start from Dh100 per person for a two-hour session, including rental jacket and trousers, or Dh130 with breakfast at restaurant North 28.
Chillout — The Ice Lounge, Dubai
As the name suggests, the Middle East’s first ice lounge is kept at a rather chilly -6 degrees Celsius. However, this isn’t just to create the novel experience of being cold enough to wrap up in big thick coats and furry hats. It’s also essential because absolutely everything at Chillout — The Ice Lounge is made from ice, including the seats, tables, walls, sculptures and even the Instagram-friendly ice wings. It’s a bit over the top, but that’s why it’s so brilliant. You can even warm up and complete the winter-wonderland feel with a mug of complimentary Alpine-style hot chocolate, coffee or tea (one hot drink per person comes included with the cost of entry, which is Dh80 for adults and Dh40 for children). Or, if you’re hungry, you can order bowls of steaming soup, a panini or pizza. This is a great one for kids, or a unique and photo-worthy catch up with your friends.
Most cinemas in the UAE are cold enough, but Ski Dubai and VOX Cinemas have joined forces to take the whole experience up a notch. See the latest blockbusters on the big screen while snuggling under a cosy blanket alongside a heater. Packages include movie tickets, hot chocolate and popcorn, with food from North 28 also available for delivery to your seat.
For many Dubai residents, this summer hasn’t been about pool days and brunches. Instead, the health-conscious and strong-minded have been flocking to sit in ice baths in the backyard of life coach Benoit Demeulemeester. Joining the Livehealthy podcast earlier this year, he explained why combining Win Hof Method breathing exercises with sitting in ice-cold water can, like cryotherapy, improve the immune system and lower blood pressure. He also said he had seen people with conditions as varied as asthma, depression and anxiety all benefit from it, and that for some people, it prompted a surreal, out-of-body experience. But it’s not all very deep and meaningful: the meetings at the self-titled Health and Happiness Factory are feel-good, social occasions, where everyone is made to feel welcome, with a barbecue or sauna session thrown in, too. You can also book indoor ice baths for Dh95 at Longevity Sports, also in Dubai, as well as order gear to arrange them in your own home. Go on, be brave and give it a go. At least you get to sit outdoors without feeling uncomfortably hot for a change.
Plunge pools and ice rooms
Cold is catching on in the UAE’s spas. Talise Spa at Jumeirah Al Qasr and SPA at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island are two destinations offering guests energizing cold plunge pools on their premises. The new Al Wathba, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Abu Dhabi, features an ice-cold bucket room and snow cave. In Dubai, there are snow rooms at the Zabeel Saray Hotel and Le Meridien Dubai.
Ice poultice massage at Zaya Nurai Island
Most of us would jump at any excuse to head over to the white sands and impossibly bright blue waters of Zaya Nurai Island. This chic, picturesque island is so gorgeous it looks like a scene from the Maldives, and it’s justifiably regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in Abu Dhabi. But, once you’ve finished posing up a storm on the giant sea swings and dolphin watching from the sunbeds, you can have the joy of cooling off in style with their one-of-a-kind, Ice Poultice massage. Delivered by expert therapists in the ultra-luxurious spa, it’s perfect for the searingly hot UAE summer. The blocks of ice help to soothe hot skin and ease tired muscles, while providing all the relaxing, tension-releasing benefits of a regular massage.
Ice skating at Zayed Sports City
You don’t have to be an expert figure skater to have a blast on the ice at Zayed Sports City. If you don’t enjoy running outside in sky-high temperatures, ice skating is a great cardio alternative that will also help improve your balance. If you really want to take it seriously, you can always invest in some lessons and learn from the expert instructors, or even hire out the entire rink for a birthday party or team-building day with your colleagues. Plus, those who fancy bringing a bit more competition to their time in the cold are invited to join sports clubs specializing in figure skating, ice hockey and ringette, which is said to be similar to ice hockey, except even faster. All sessions include skates, socks and safety equipment with prices starting from Dh55 for a daytime or weekday evening session.
Harriet Shephard is an Abu Dhabi-based copywriter and freelance journalist with a particular focus on fitness, travel and lifestyle, which, along with good food, also happen to be her main passions when she's not typing away at her laptop.