Thursday, April 19, 2007

Go ski in Dubai...but why?

I've been enjoying all of the HD channels since we got our new TV. The Discovery HD Theatre is my clear favorite, though I wish they showed the same programming that was on regular Discovery. (I can only imagine the wonder - while convienently ignoring the logisitcs - of watching "Deadliest Catch" in HD.)

Of the programs they show consistently, Extreme Engineering is one I'll try to catch if the subject interests me - and it usually does. Tonight was no exception: There were no sports on that interested me, I've had about all I can handle of Virginia Tech coverage for now, and all the other regular stops - Discovery Times, History Channel, Travel Channel - were all barren.
Hello, Extreme Engineering.

They were tracking a monumental building in Dubai in the UAE. To keep pace with the tourist boom, the city has supported several high-end malls, each trying to outdo the others. This new mall was going for the biggest thing yet: An indoor ski slope with real snow. In Dubai, the middle of the desert. (Watch for crappy music on the link.)

Moreover, they were using an innovative technique to make snow that acted and felt a lot more like real snow. The sprayed water particles into the air like a mist, then seeded the mist with something (they didn't say what, of course) so that the falling snowflakes would form as they do in nature.

But the project was saddled with difficulties from the get-go. Things were built, then had to be torn down and rebuilt; things were covered in concrete, but it became necessary to rip out the concrete and rework some of the innards. Suppliers weren't always the most nimble.

The continued delays, the announcer said in a concerned tone, could cost the owners millions of dollars.

Come again?

Am I supposed to feel bad for them?

It was their brilliant idea to build a ski slope in the middle of the desert because, well, building a damn nice mall just wasn't good enough.

From that point on, I secretly hoped the delays would get unbearably long. (As it turns out, it was only three months.)

From then on, the structure looked less like a curiosity and more a garish piece of overzealousness. It gives the place a Vegas feel, where nothing's too over the top (and, incidentally, they put lots of golf courses in the middle of a desert).

Early in the program - before I turned bitter - the announcer stated (with a seeming sense of pride) how many megawatts it took just to run the place. Recalling that, I got even more pissed at the place. It's supposed to use all that energy and, presumably, make all that pollution for what? Again, one could argue Vegas does the same, but I believe they get most of their power from the Hoover Dam.

I hope the residents and tourists of Dubai enjoy their skiing. I just wonder at what cost.


Balarko said...

No Sports on TV?? Hockey playoffs and Mariners baseball! What more can a guy need! Maya is so sick of hockey she might ban it forever. (it's been snowing here, so I have been logging some serious TV sports time)

ME said...

The NHL lockout is over??? Did the Whalers make the playoffs? Seriously, the NHL playoffs are great, especially in HD. It's too bad the NHL is dead to me. Any word on King Felix's elbow?

Brian said...

It's an absolute chore for me to watch most sports on TV anymore. I'd take an interesting Discovery or History Channel show over any NBA game and most NHL, MLB, NFL, NCAAF and NASCAR broadcasts.


There are exceptions: Daytona, NCAA tournament, Super Bowl/playoffs. But I'll leave the rest.

ME said...

You watch sports for a living. That's why I worry about gynocologists. :) You can't get into