Let's face it, the UAE is probably the last place you would expect to find a white water rafting facility. While it has never let its lack of rivers or lakes impede its residents' love for aqua-based fun (it has more water parks than there are oceans in the world), the country's thrill-seekers have until now been limited to plummeting down slides and hurtling through pipes on giant inflatables.
All fantastic, adrenaline-pumping fun, of course. But where do you go if you're looking for something that requires a bit more physical skill and in an environment free of squealing six-year-olds in rubber rings?
The answer is Wadi Adventure in Al Ain, not so much a water park as a sprawling man-made water sports paradise. Catering for kayakers, white water rafters and even surfers, it's due to open next month and is, according to John Fisher of Select Contracts, the company that built the facility, "the first of its kind in the Middle East and the first of its kind in the world offering surfing and white-water activities".
Featuring a surf pool capable of making 3.3-metre waves, snaking kayaking runs with a combined length of 1,133 metres and a swimming pool and man-made beach, it'll be the jewel in Al Ain's crown, making it a must-visit destination. And with the facility itself providing the equipment, all you need to bring is your sense of adventure and a set of dry clothes.
Asked what people who have already used the facility thought about it, Fisher says, "The Facebook link has a couple of great comments on the surfing. Rafters and kayakers have said they're ‘thrilled that white-water sports are now available in the UAE'. The centre is great for learning and is challenging enough for those with experience".
As for the aquaphobic, there's a climbing wall, rope course and zip-line to keep you entertained, as well as several venues to rest, eat and watch your more adventurous friends battle the rapids.
Situated near the foot of Jebel Hafeet, itself a magnet for visitors from other emirates, Wadi Adventure is almost certain to be the so-called Garden City's biggest tourist attraction and will be open all year round. Bring it on!