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Edutainment activities, more ski resorts planned

LANDMARK Exhibitions of the Mohammed Al Otaiba Group announced on Sunday plans to provide "edutainment" -- entertainment in an educational way -- besides setting up additional ski resorts in Dubai on the heels of its successful ventures in the city and other parts of the world.

Addressing a press conference at its "Snow World" centre in Creek Park in Dubai, Youssef El Hindi, vice-president of Landmark Exhibitions, said the emphasis is on promoting the projects as family entertainment and educational centres where children can learn about nature in the frozen world.

Children will be able to see at the present and upcoming ski resorts figures of creatures like polar bears and Arctic foxes which live in the icy wild, besides having a first-hand feel of the snow and icy temperatures, and the opportunity to build a snowman in a country where temperatures soar to hot heights, he said. "After seeing the massive influx of visitors to the Frozen World (where ice sculptures of prominent figures and world famous attractions like the Burj Al Arab are displayed) and Snow World (which is a ski slope of snow made from pure water that is totally safe for children), we want children and families to literally experience what they have only read in books and seen on television," he said.

Hindi said efforts were continuing to set up two additional ski resorts in Dubai besides the existing one at the Snow World and the areas chosen were another section of the Creek Park and in Z'abeel. A 600-square-metre area comprising alpine restaurants, small four-star motels in the to-be-set-up 6,000-metre-wide section in the Creek Park was part of the two new resorts which would be constructed in three phases at total expenditure of Dhs 120 million, he said, adding that the first phase would be completed in 2002 with a 600-metre-long ski slope that would be gradually increased to a length of 1,000 metres.

"The remaining phases will concentrate on setting up of health spas, gift islands and a play area for children, while the final stage will include a four-star motel with four floors. The resort in Z'abeel area will be completed first, while permission is yet to be granted for the second Creek Park resort. The existing ski resort beside Frozen World will continue its activities till the second one comes up in the same park," Hindi said. He said the new resort in Creek Park will feature a ski lift or cable car network to facilitate the skiers climb to high altitudes for skiing. The entire ski resort, which will also include a carousel and walk-in area for non-skiing visitors who can avail of in-house restaurant facilities, will be contained inside a temperature-controlled exterior that will resemble Mount Everest, mountains in Switzerland and the solar system. Replying to questions, he said the group was continuing with its worldwide expansion plans of setting up two ski resort projects every year and their ski resort in Egypt had opened on schedule on July 14 with two sections including a 1,500-square metres area featuring ice sculptures and the other being a ski slope of 85 metres length and 20 metres width where children could ski and go tobogganing with the help of instructors.

A similar ski resort in Saudi Arabia will be opening soon and will feature a slope of 100 metres length and 30 metres width, he said. He said a ski resort at Mumbai in India had already been allocated a licence by the government concerned and a suitable site was being chosen from among the two likely sites in that city. A ski resort in Thailand had been already completed with a length of 100 metres by 30 metres width, he said, adding that negotiations were under way for two more resorts to be set up in Jakarta and Malaysia by 2002.

Commenting on the wildlife attractions at the group's nature shows in the Creek Park, he said the latest crowd pullers are two otters, which have been brought in recently and are the stars of a special 30-minute show that is held after dolphin show. However, the otter show has been put off till next week during Flower Surprises week as the stage is being utilised for flowers shows, he said. Lauding the media for their support to the group's various projects including the ski resorts, he said the media blitz in the UAE on their ski resort ventures had drawn lots of queries from companies in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Holland, Austria and Norway.

The group has been approached by the International Ski Association to hold international skiing competitions featuring world champions when their 600-metre-long ski slope is completed, he said. He thanked the Dubai Municipality for their contribution in granting permission and assisting in the various procedures for setting up the ski resorts. The group was focusing more towards drawing tourists from neighbouring countries and coming out with membership schemes that would allow families to spend more time enjoying these cool facilities in temperatures of between seven to 15 degrees with the whole ski resort project under one roof, he added.


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