Written by by Geo Gabriel, CNN
It will still be a sweltering summer in Dubai by the time this year ends, but the emirate’s rulers are stepping up efforts to ensure residents will have something to smile about — rather than freewheeling through the streets in short shorts.
A website has just been launched to help visitors cope with the high temperatures that are expected in 2018, as well as to plan and book activities for upcoming years. The effort has been taken up with the Omicron Synchronized Swimming Association, which is committed to spearheading “the first Omicron-style swimming program in the Middle East and North Africa region.”
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“It’s just over a month from the official start of summer, and in that time we are expecting the temperature to jump upwards of 10 degrees centigrade,” said Salah Al-Jallaf, CEO of DXB Entertainments, which controls the number of hotel rooms in Dubai. “So we want to prepare people for that and at the same time give them good options for fun activities to have them in the right state of mind when they need to escape the heat.”
DXB also plans to boost special holiday packages targeting beach-loving visitors to the city. “People have a lot of options around the malls and hotels,” said Al-Jallaf. “But, if you’re a beach-going man, it’s not like you can go every day.”
Al-Jallaf believes the smoggy weather may be a thing of the past, thanks to strict greenhouses measures that are limiting the number of permitted jobs across the area. “There’s less job opportunities, which gives people the chance to think about more sustainable things,” he said.
Categories on the website, designed by a team of 10 consultants, are based on family requirements. Customers can choose between short-break activities and standard hotel packages. Older residents can take advantage of access to wellness centers, and young families will also be able to book activities for the kids.
“We wanted to approach this from a green perspective, and didn’t want to do something beyond that,” said Sammy Levine, General Manager of the United Arab Emirates Center for Research on Sustainability.
As part of their agreement with UNESCO, the UAE is required to create 2,500 hectares of landscape — which includes parks, community gardens and terraced hills — by 2021. In the year to come, Dubai will be releasing more details of this plan, in a bid to encourage tourism and consumption of locally-grown food.
“Many people can’t afford a long holiday, so we’re working towards creating what everyone in the UAE would be happy to come to for a day or two. We want people to take advantage of the beauty of nature around Dubai,” said Levine.
According to Levine, the concept of capitalizing on the heatwave phenomenon of the past may be based on a ‘tidal wave’ of international interest the area experienced in the year of 2015. “A lot of people were affected by the summer heat, so they started thinking about other ways that they can take advantage of Dubai,” he said.