Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

There’s no business like snow business for homesick expats in the UAE

Dubai firm is offering private villa owners the opportunity to give their back gardens a snow dusting for Christmas.
Ben Elliott-Scott, managing director of Desert Snow, sprays a typical street side scene in Jumeirah with a artificial snow typically used on movie sets and stages to recreate a snow scene. Antonie Robertson / The National
Ben Elliott-Scott, managing director of Desert Snow, sprays a typical street side scene in Jumeirah with a artificial snow typically used on movie sets and stages to recreate a snow scene. Antonie Robertson / The National

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.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae

Updated: December 15, 2013 04:00 AM

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