The ‘chill out’ hangout: Gulf tourists beat the heat in ice cafe

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It’s well-known for its high summer temperatures and iconic landmarks.

But visitors to Dubai can take in the sights without working up a sweat.

At the Chillout ice lounge, sub-zero temperatures not only keep the tourists cool, but prevent the ice sculptures of Dubai’s best-known landmarks from melting.

”This country is known for its really hot weather, so to have a place made of ice like this is a really nice and unique idea,” said Chillout’s Hani Fanoos.

Visitors are supplied with thermal jackets, boots and fur hats as they enter the cafe, which holds its temperature at a constant minus six degrees Celsius.

Fanoos said most visitors came from Gulf countries which, with their traditionally hot and arid climates, never experience snow or ice.

And the sculptures don’t stay the same for too long, he said.

“Every year, especially during the month of Ramadan when we are closed, we do new ice carvings, come up with new ideas and new ice sculptures as well,” said Fanoos.

Chillout first opened its doors in 2007. Visitors pay 60 dirhams ($16) for a 40- minute visit and one hot drink.

“It is a different atmosphere here, frankly, and it is well worth another visit,” said Turki Khaled from Saudi Arabia.

It is not just the sculptures that are frozen. Everything from the chandeliers and paintings, to the tables, chairs and plates, and even the menu, are all carved out of ice.

For one Saudi family, it was the first time they had come across such a concept.

“An [ice] cafe that you can sit and have a coffee in is a new idea that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the Arab world, I don’t think,” said Janna Aref.

Her daughter Yara was one of the children enjoying the novelty of feeling cold.

“It’s nice because I have always wanted to come to a place that was frozen and to see what it’s like to be in the cold,” she said.

As well providing visitors with warm clothes, the cafe also covers its frozen seats with fur and treats the floor to prevent slipping.

Owners say the ice lounge attracts around 100 visitors a day.

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