Skiing in Egypt

15 Sep

Skiing in North Africa. Sounds a bit strange you must think. To be more specific, skiing in Egypt is going to be so much fun, but how? You are thinking, am I going to be skiing down the Giza Pyramid? Although that would be one exotic ski experience, it is doubtful that it would happen, at least in the coming future. But skiing in Egypt is going to be possible, we will tell you how in just about a minute.

Egypt is not this overly mountainous region, the only mountains that pile up are those of sand in the desert, although practiced, sand skiing does not do the trick for us here, we want pure white and cold snow. Think deeper, there are the Jabal Katherina mountain series on the Sinai peninsula, but is the weather ever cooler than 25 degrees there? Well , apparently not enough to make it snow!

So how will one ski in Egypt? Well you see, there is talk of this new huge center to be built, a center very much like Ski Dubai, featuring a mall, and an artificial ski slope arena. Thats right! You can now ski after you’ve been tanning on Sharam El Sheikh’s beaches, or sipping on a cold drink in Cairo, its just a drive away to a cold mountainous region fit for rocketing down on your skis and showing off your skill!

Skiing in Dubai

Dubai indoors ski slopes

Indoor ski slopes have been around for about 15 years now, giving tropical climate, and hot countries a chance to enjoy a winter sport without having to take the next plane. Egypt is about to introduce its own, and you can then make a choice between sand skiing, or snow skiing.


Egypt’s climate normally gives out warm and hot days and paradoxically cool nights. Egypt goes through two long seasons throughout a year, a mild November to April winter, and a hot May to October summer. Temperatures range between a minimum of 14° C in winter and a maximum of 30° C in summer in the coastal areas.

The inland desert areas have variable temperature, in summers ranging from 7° C at night time to 43° C during the day. Temperature in the desert face less fluctuations in winter, reaching 0° C at night and 18° C during the day.

In northern Egypt’s Alexandria, cool temperatures have made it a great tourist attraction, whereas the Delta and Nile Valley face occasional cold winters accompanied by light frost and snow.

The pyramids of Egypt

The pyramids of Egypt

The hot spring winds are quite famous when it comes to Egypt’s climate, known as the Khamsin to the locals, and sirocco to the Europeans. The hot winds normally strike sometime between March to May. Forming in Isthmus of Suez, the winds sweep through to the Northern coast of Africa, unaffected by geographical features, the winds gain velocity and travel at great speed carrying loads of sand and desert dust.

Ski Egypt Development

2 Jun


Egypt. Hot sands. Pyramids. A camel or two. A protestor or a few. Now throw into the mix a few icy slopes, not the metaphorical kind that you’d expect to read about in the country’s recent political troubles, but actual slopes, and actual snow.

Welcome to Ski Egypt.

No need to go to the Alps. Or Lebanon. Or Colorado. Or the Himalayas. Or the Andes. In three years’ time, you will be able to arrange a scorching Red Sea resort trip and stop by Egypt’s ski slopes—a stark twist to the country’s sand swept background.

But sweltering in the heat after freezing your toes off for fun is not a new experience for those who have visited Dubai’s freeze fest—Ski Dubai. The Egypt offering will share similar traits to Dubai’s indoor ski resort—and will also share the same big shot developer.

The man behind Ski Dubai and some of the city’s biggest shopping malls, Majid Al Futtaim, is pushing toward developing Egypt’s attractions and has eyed the North African country as a key market, a senior executive told The National. The Majid Al Futtaim Leisure Group plans to open the snow park by 2014.

Ski Egypt indoors ski slopes project

“It’s going to be more of a snow park, but there’s going to be a slope element,” said Arnaud Palu, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Leisure. The venue’s provisional name is Ski Egypt, he added.

Ski Egypt is a part of Majid Al Futtaim’s 4.4 billion Egyptian pound ($741 million) Mall of Egypt project. Although the design has not yet been finalized, it will not be as large as the 400-meter slope in Dubai, nor would it have a black run, the newspaper reported.

The United Arab Emirates’ Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort that opened in 2005. It has 9,000 square meters of indoor ski area inside Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and is also operated by the Majid Al Futtaim Leisure.

And now it’s Egypt’s turn.

The company has two malls already operational in Egypt and is “very actively” looking at other opportunities in the country, Mr. Palu said.

“Egypt is definitely one of the biggest markets we are going after,” he said.

In-mall attractions are a growing, cost-effective alternative to standalone theme parks with a higher chance of survival, Mr. Palu said.

“Unlike the GCC, quality shopping centers in Egypt and the Levant are fairly limited,” the consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle said in a report in April 2011.

“Although current political uncertainties may have implications on project deliveries in Egypt, significant opportunities for further retail development or expansion remain.

“Older malls that lack ‘pull’ factors such as entertainment and food and beverage options will ultimately suffer and some may be converted to non-retail uses,” Jones Lang LaSalle added.

The consultancy said that malls in the Middle East must strengthen their entertainment appeal or risk closure, warning that retail must be mixed with leisure outlets. And indeed, in-mall attractions have proved to be the “wow” factor developer group Majid Al Futtaim Leisure had hoped for—the indoor ski slope attracts about 800,000 visitors a year.

Bringing the “wow” to “now” Egypt won’t be hard. The North African country welcomes leisure attractions with open arms, particularly those that may encourage a boost to tourism, one of Egypt’s main sources of revenues which earned the country $5.58 billion in the first half of 2010 alone.

In-mall attractions are sweeping across the region and the future of malls with an entertainment-retail mix looks to be hopeful. But this could leave observers wondering what developers will be planning next—how will they entertain us when “wow” loses its novelty?