In early December 2012 I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with Skydive Dubai while transiting back from Indonesia. I visited Skydive Dubai two years ago, however on this occasion my trip coincided with the World Parachuting Championships.
Skydive Dubai was founded four years ago by the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad Al Maktoum. The Crown Prince is a mad keen skydiver, Paramotor Pilot and general adventure sports enthusiast. He wanted a place to skydive in Dubai and chose a tract of land on the coast which was being developed for a Hilton Hotel. It is a spectacular location between the Palm Jumeirah and the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina.
I first visited the Palm drop zone in 2010 and was amazed at the level of development in the two years since I had been there. They had constructed a new runway out into the sea, built a series of office buildings, created a parachute packing area and developed restaurant. They had also dramatically expanded the grass landing area which was now ringed by temporary grand stands, team marquees, and giant TV screens.
The 2012 World Championships event was the biggest Skydiving competition ever held and was attended by representatives from 47 countries. I arrived towards the end of the championships in time for the Freestyle Canopy Landings. This is great for spectators as the competitors attempt to perform the best ‘freestyle’ landings while flying at speeds of up to 60mph over the swoop pond. As expected there were plenty of spectacular crashes, including one pilot cartwheeling through the air resulting in a big splash and an enormous cheer from the crowd. Several of my fellow skydivers from Empuriabrava in Spain were competing in the competition, including the Babylon Freefly team which came third.
After the event I was invited to have a flight with Nasser, the CEO of Skydive Dubai, in his tandem trike. We took off from the grass landing area and I was treated to an amazing view as we flew along the coast right next to the enormous skyscrapers. I was then invited to ride a camel at the Crown Prince of Dubai’s residence on the edge of the desert. It was an interesting experience but not one I am keen to repeat any time soon!
Due to the competition the Palm DZ was closed, so on my final day I visited the Desert Campus DZ, 45 minutes inland, where they are currently building the world’s largest indoor wind tunnel. Throughout the day I managed to do four skydives, one of which was with a Kuwaiti Paramotor Pilot. You never know who you are going to meet on a skydiving plane.
My visit to Skydive Dubai was fantastic and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to escape the depressing, miserable European winter. You don’t have to be a qualified skydiver to have a good time as there is so much on offer for everyone. I am now looking forward to returning for more fun in the sun later in the year!