Chilling out in sizzling Dubai's all-ice cafe

Mon May 13, 2013 11:35am EDT
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By Mirna Sleiman

DUBAI (Reuters) - Honeymooners and other tourists from the Gulf are heading to the throbbing heart of Dubai to beat the summer heat by cooling off at the first "ice lounge" in the Middle East.

The interior decor of Dubai's Chillout cafe is made entirely of carved ice, with frozen picture frames, ice curtains and frosty seats covered in fur.

The interior of the cafe, owned by UAE's Sharaf Group, is lit with multi-colored fluorescent lights.

"We got married in Riyadh four days ago and the first place on our to-do list was to visit Chillout cafe in Dubai," said 27-year-old Saudi travel agent Ahmed, holding the hand of his veiled bride Nouf.

"Can you imagine you're in a freezing café while it's 35 degrees (Celsius) outside?"

Visitors are kitted out with thermal jackets, boots and fur hats provided by the cafe in a striking similarity to the ice hotels which dot Scandinavia in winter.

Dubai - which is famous for its luxury shopping, beaches, indoor ski slope, the world's tallest tower and a man-made palm-shaped island - has become a top short-stay tourist destination in the Middle East alongside Cairo and Beirut.

Tourism is crucial to Dubai's economy, which had a gross domestic product of around $90 billion last year, supports the emirate's large retail industry and hospitality sectors.   Continued...

Honeymooner Ahmed, form Saudi Arabia who got married last week, kisses his veiled bride at Chillout cafe in Dubai May 12, 2013. Chillout, owned by UAE's Sharaf Group, is the first ice lounge in the Middle East, with temperatures set at -6 degrees Celsius (21 degrees Farenheit). The cafe, with its illuminated interiors, curtains, paintings and seating arrangements, is all made of carved ice and frozen sculptures. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah