Who cares about sandstorms? (Photo: brett jordan/Flickr)

It’s no secret that there is so much money floating around the city of Dubai that it essentially exists in the future.

Yet many of the wondrous sights found in the rapidly expanding city just really shouldn’t exist in a desert. In an arid climate where temperatures routinely rise well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the abundance of luxury, water-dependent spots like ski slopes, massive flower gardens, and lush green golf courses seem like a directed F.U. to the harshness of the surrounding environment. And with a world expo set to take place in the city in 2020, things are just getting weirder. Here are seven places that somehow really exist in Dubai.    

1. Ski Dubai

Winter fun in the desert sun. (Photo: neekoh.fi/Flickr)

Located inside the Mall of the Emirates, this year-round ski slope gets fresh snow each night in direct defiance of the scorching temperatures on the other side of the walls. The fully functional ski center offers a fake mountain to ski down, as well as other ice-based attractions like an ice bar and a penguin encounter. Knock it off, Dubai.   

(Photo: Marko Kudjerski/Flickr)

(Photo: pravin.premkumar/Flickr)

(Photo: Jay Tamboli/Flickr)

2. Dubai Miracle Garden

Yes. Those colors are real. (Photo: Srilatha Sharma/Flickr)

Want to plant the world’s largest natural flower garden? Why not do it in the middle of the desert? The aptly named Dubai Miracle Garden is a sprawling technicolor wonderland of fresh, growing flowers. It contains over 45 million flowers set into elaborate displays that form words, patterns, and images using a rainbow of natural color. The caretakers say they use wastewater to irrigate the garden and keep it growing. But whatever they are doing, it’s safe to say that no desert on Earth has ever seen this many lush flowers.

(Photo: Srilatha Sharma/Flickr)

(Photo: Tim Adams/Flickr)

(Photo: Srilatha Sharma/Flickr)

3. Jumeirah Islands

The swamp islands of Dubai? (Photo: Dubai Construction Update/Wikipedia)

For some, living in an ultra-wealthy city of the future isn’t quite exclusive enough. The Jumeirah Islands developments were created so that people could live on their own little man-made land on the water. The neighborhood consists of 50 small islands set in an artificial lake that was also purpose built for the development. Each island contains just 16 separate villas, making them little communities within their own communities. It’s not quite having your own island, but it’s close.

(Photo: Dubai Construction Update/Wikipedia)

(Photo: Dubai Construction Update/Wikipedia)

(Photo: Dubai Construction Update/Wikipedia)

4. Palm Islands, The World, and The Universe

The future of the Dubai coast will encompass the entire universe. (Photo: Tobias Karlhuber/Wikipedia)

Speaking of islands that probably shouldn’t exist, some of the most iconic features of modern Dubai are the ever-growing artificial island that have been built into the coastline. Not content to just create more land (disrupting the local marine environment), the eccentric goofballs that planned these new land features made them into fun shapes like a palm tree and a map of the world.

A second, larger palm tree island is currently underway, and a second artificial archipelago, titled The Universe, is set to be created beneath the already finished, The World. It’s official: they are playing God over there.

(Photo: NASA/Wikipedia)

(Photo: Aheilner/Wikipedia)

(Photo: Dubaiworld/Wikipedia)

(Photo: zlatko/Wikipedia)

5. Emirates Golf Club

Dubai or Miami? (Photo: dubaigolf.com)

A golf course in the middle of a barren desert isn’t absolutely unheard of, but it is pretty odd to see one that is covered in almost blindingly green grass. The Emirates Golf Club actually consists of two different courses that incorporate the natural environment, but each includes fairways of such a lush green that they would likely get a California resident arrested if their lawn looked as good. Of course the surrounding resorts offer all manner of modern luxury, but having grass that green in the desert is maybe the most decadent part of the whole affair.

(Photo: dubaigolf.com)

6. Meydan One Swimming Pool

Just the beginning of a yacht-filled waterway. (Photo: crystal-lagoons.com)

Meydan One is a planned development expected to be completed in 2020. When it is finished, it is set to break multiple world records including the one for the world’s tallest residential tower. But maybe the most remarkable parts of the whole affair are the planned canal and lagoon structures, which will have room for around 100 yachts, and a 90-acre swimming pool. Inland from the coast. In a part of the world where water isn’t exactly easy to come by. Why not? While these features are not yet complete, a portion of the massive swimming lagoon has been finished.  

7. Burj al Arab Tennis Court / Helipad

Looks totally safe guys. (Photo: brett jordan/Flickr

In 2005, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi played a tennis match on a truly terrifying court. The grass, court lines, and net had been installed specially atop the helipad of the world’s third largest hotel, the Burj al Arab. Shaped like a UFO and lacking any sort of guard rail, the helipad is suspended over 700 feet in the air. This is all well and good until you remember that Dubai is subject to intense sand storms that can last days as high winds buffet the city in sheets of flying sand. A blinding sandstorm probably isn’t so great for your game. 

The tennis court no longer exists, but the helipad awaits your arrival. You own a private helicopter, right?

(Photo: Michael Coghlan/Flickr)


(Photo: Nitin Badhwar/Flickr)