There’s no business like snow business for homesick expats in the UAE
DUBAI // Many expatriates staying in the UAE over Christmas say seasonal snow is one of the things they miss most at this time of year.
But a “winter effects” company is offering private villa residents the chance to make their back gardens a winter wonderland with a dusting of the white stuff.
Ben Elliott-Scott, managing director of Desert Snow, has several customers who are not going home and who want a Christmas feeling.
“This is our busiest time of the year, purely because to get that magic of winter, you need to have snow,” Mr Elliott-Scott said.
The company has 40 falling snow machines, all of which have been rented, several snowmen and a “forest” of 200 artificial fir trees.
One of the most popular attractions is a snow-dusting machine that uses biodegradable, cellulose-like material, a bit like wet paper, to imitate settled snow.
The material has been used in several shopping malls this year as a “snowball fight” attraction.
The company has imported and used 3.75 tonnes of the material across the country so far this month.
While most customers are malls and large-scale private events, the company also offers a service to transform your back garden.
Costing from Dh5,000, you can have 5 square metres of snow on your back lawn, about 5 centimetres thick, which can be used to make snowballs.
For up to Dh20,000, you can have fir trees, snowmen, and a machine to make falling snow.
Mr Elliott-Scott said most people who chose the package were homesick expatriates.
“There’s a lot of nostalgia among expats, who miss that part of home,” he said.
“There’s a Canadian family who are missing the snow from home. They’ve had a kid since they’ve moved here and that child hasn’t experienced a proper Christmas, Canadian-style with snow.”
Mr Elliott-Scott said the snow also had a “novelty factor” with local children, many of whom had never seen real snow before.
“I’ve always thought that snow is a magical thing,” he said. “That’s something that doesn’t happen here naturally. But more people are finding that cellulose snow is the next best thing.”
Updated: December 15, 2013 04:00 AM