Desert Ice Cafe

Image Credit: Chillout Cafe Dubai

Dubai is renowned for its year-round warmth and iconic landmarks, but there’s also a place visitors can take in the sights without working up a sweat.

At the Chillout ice lounge in the Times Square mall, sub-zero temperatures not only keep the tourists cool, but prevent the ice sculptures of Dubai’s best-known landmarks from melting.

Visitors are supplied with thermal jackets, boots and fur hats as they enter the cafe, which holds its temperature at a constant minus-six degrees Celsius.

Image Credit: Chillout Cafe Dubai

Hani Fanoos is the head of service. He says, “This country is known for its really hot weather, so to have a place made of ice like this is a really unique idea.”

Fanoos says most visitors came from Gulf countries which, with their traditionally hot and arid climates, never experience snow or ice.

They focus on attracting return visitors too.

“Every year, especially during the month of Ramadan when we are closed,” he says, “we do new ice carvings, come up with new ideas and new ice figures as well.”

It is not just the sculptures that are frozen. Everything from the chandeliers and paintings, to the tables, chairs and plates, and even the menu, are all carved out of ice.

Chillout first opened its doors in 2007. Visitors pay AED60 for a 40- minute visit, including a hot drink.

For one Saudi family, it was the first time they had come across such a concept.

Janna Aref says, “It’s a new idea and I don’t think it exists anywhere else in the Arab world.”

As well providing visitors with warm clothes, the cafe also covers its frozen seats with fur and treats the floor to prevent slipping.

Owners say the ice lounge attracts around 100 visitors a day.

Originally featured on Emirates News, 17 May 2013

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