Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
The Parachute Regiment Freefall Team, Red Devils, practicing at The Skydive complex near JBR last year.
The Parachute Regiment Freefall Team, Red Devils, practicing at The Skydive complex near JBR last year.

Runway will give Dubai the jump on its rivals

Expansion means bigger planes will be able to take more jumpers into the air over the Palm Jumeirah.

DUBAI // Skydive Dubai has built a longer runway - out into the sea - so even more people can jump out of an aircraft at nearly 4,000 metres over the Palm Jumeirah.

From humble beginnings in 2008 as a sand runway, a tent and a few portable cabins, the site has become one of Dubai's top attractions. And the longer the runway, the more people can take off in one aircraft.

"Its definitely number one with visuals," said Alan Gayton, operations manager at Skydive Dubai. "All the other big drop zones around the world are all different in their own right."

Flo Rida, the singer, gave Skydive Dubai's profile a boost when he filmed most of his Wild Ones video with the company. It has received nearly 120 million hits on YouTube.

This year the centre built a 750-metre runway that stretches about 550 metres into the Arabian Gulf.

"I've seen runways finishing in the sea but not two-thirds of them in the sea," Mr Gayton said.

A spokesman for Laing O'Rourke, which built the runway, said it was the longest of its kind in the Middle East.

"There can only be a handful in the world," the spokesman added.

The company dredged about 800,000 cubic metres of sand and formed a temporary causeway to make the runway out of precast concrete.

The old, 400-metre runway was removed this month and management was finalising the number of UK wind tunnels, used to train people how to skydive without going up in plane, to be built in its place.

The landing zone was also expanded.

With the longer runway, up to 150 tandems can be made with the planes able to take up a maximum of 22 people instead of 18.

Before the limit was 70 at the weekends. Most people jump first in a tandem, attached to a qualified jumper.

There will be other new attractions, although the details were being kept secret.

"There will be lots but we are not saying anything until it is all firmed up and it's nice to surprise people with something new," Mr Gayton said. "But this will be the extreme [sports] centre of the UAE."

The Palm Jumeirah has become a well-known jump, attracting tourists worldwide, he said.

"We have groups of 200 or 300 coming for events and then get groups of 10 to 20 coming from their native countries and doing a week holiday here jumping."

For the more advanced jumpers, a swoop pond was built two years ago next to the landing zone. The stretch of water has several different uses.

Canopy-piloting jumpers can approach the pond at speed and either drag their feet along the water or score points by going through entry and exit gates, or landing in particular boxes.

Another discipline works like a long jump, where a parachutist approaches the water at speed and then propels himself into the air. The aim is to go the furthest.

"It's one of the most visual of disciplines," Mr Gayton said.

The club has also won the rights to hold the World Parachuting Championships Mondial 2012, the pinnacle of skydiving, in November.

eharnan@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Thai anti-government protesters blow whistles during a rally at the Metropolitan Electricity Authority in Bangkok, Thailand. Rungroj Yongrit / EPA

Best photography from around the world April 23

The National View's photo editors pick the best of the day from around the world

 Thomas Heatherwick, the designer of Al Fayah park, unveiled his dream of a recreation area that is truly Abu Dhabi at Cityscape 2014 in the capital on April 22, 2014. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Abu Dhabi’s new Al Fayah Park: putting other green space in the shade

Nick Leech speaks to Thomas Heatherwick, the designer of Al Fayah, a park commissioned by the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation that hopes to redefine Abu Dhabi's urban landscape.

 Manager Jose Mourinho of Chelsea looks on from the dug out during the Champions League semi-final first leg match against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. Paul Gilham / Getty Images / April 22, 2014

‘Now the game of our lives is at Stamford Bridge’ says Mourinho after Chelsea, Atletico draw

After Tuesday's scoreless draw, Jose Mourinho revealed Petr Cech's season was over and John Terry was also done unless they could reach the Champions League final.

 Mumbai Indians fans cheer they team on the opening match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Earn cash back with the IPL cricket in the UAE

Dunia finance promotion allows cricket lovers to earn up to 6 per cent unlimited cash back on any spending they make on a day when an IPL match is played in the UAE.

 Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College students participate in the 2014 Innovation Challenge. Delores Johnson / The National

In pictures: the UAE Innovation Challenge 2014

The engineering competition brought together almost 100 students from across the country competing in teams to build the best unmanned aircraft.

 Former Manchester United manager David Moyes, right, speaks to Manchester United's Welsh midfielder Ryan Giggs during a training session at the team's Carrington training complex in Manchester, north-west England on April 22, 2014. Andrew Yates / AFP

Giggs a better fit for Manchester United than Moyes

The winger, who has played 962 games for the club, has been placed in interim charge of the first team and will be assisted by his former Manchester United teammate Nicky Butt.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National