- Due to popular demand for experiential tourism products in the Middle East, the UAE’s only commercial Via Ferrata’s inaugural season will extend until the end of May, re-opening in October with a renovated product and increased capacity
Due to popular demand, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) is investing in the expansion of the its highly-successful Jebel Jais Via Ferrata (Iron Path) adventure challenge in the Hajar Mountains, the only commercial product of its kind in the UAE.
Since its launch in December 2016, strong demand for the experiential tourism product, which has seen 1,500 enthusiasts climb, trek and zipline almost 400 feet above sea level on Jebel Jais, has led to the extension of the inaugural season until the end of May. The decision to renovate and expand the capacity for the product, which will re-open in October 2017, will enable RAKTDA to cater to the increased demand from corporate and group bookings.
“Haitham Mattar, CEO, RAKTDA commented: “The Jebel Jais Via Ferrata has been a resounding success and has attracted a range of sporting enthusiasts from throughout the Gulf and Europe. The product already occupies a second-place ranking on TripAdvisor for the emirate’s attractions – the first going to Jebel Jais as an attraction in itself.”.
“In its first month, the Jebel Jais Via Ferrata achieved an average booking capacity of 81%, rising to 94% on weekends. The attraction’s popularity highlights the appetite for experiential and active adventure sports products which Ras Al Khaimah, with its diverse landscapes of desert, coast, hot springs and mountains, is superbly placed to fulfil.”
Since its launch four months ago, Ras Al Khaimah’s Iron Path has won universal praise from media and sports enthusiasts who have dubbed it “invigorating”, and “a cross between rock climbing and mountaineering”.
Jebel Jais Via Ferrata is the first in a range of experiential mountain and adventure products RAKTDA is looking developing specifically for active adventurers and wellness seekers on the UAE’s highest peak. The authority has already revealed plans to launch the world’s longest zipline on the mountain, which rises to 1,934 metres and borders Oman, in Q4 2017 in addition to an observation deck, and new mountain and hiking routes.
“Our Destination 2019 Tourism Strategy includes a roadmap for innovative hospitality concepts that take advantage of our destination’s unique natural assets. We have identified these areas as excellent opportunities for investment for luxury mountain resorts and wellness retreats. Jebel Jais is popular with visitors looking for hiking and trekking excursions, and we welcome amateur and professional adventurers, with specialist guides, at hiking and cycling events every year. With the zipline, cycling tours and unique accommodation options currently being planned, the potential for activity, nature and adventure-based tourism market is huge.”
In addition to Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah offers unique landscapes for mountain biking, kayaking and hiking such as Wadi Showka where no less than 50km of mountain biking routes among stunning natural landscapes can be enjoyed alongside natural rock pools.
Ras Al Khaimah’s kilometre-long Via Ferrata is unique in that it comprises three individual start and finish points, and three zip-lines ranging from 165 feet, to 195 feet to 985 feet, to expand possibilities for various age and fitness capabilities. Adventure-goers, who are offered complimentary transfers from the Tulip Inn Ras Al Khaimah, are able to choose from the three routes, in twice-daily organised and supervised tours. The beginner course, the Ledge Walk, takes the average group of eight around four hours to complete. The middle, technical route – the Middle Path – takes around 3.5 hours and the higher, vertical route – Julphar Scare – takes around 1.5 hours.
Minimum age and weight restrictions apply for challengers who must be at least 12 years old and weigh at least 6.5 stone and no more than 15.5 stone. Challengers over 65 years of age may be asked for a doctor’s clearance before being accepted.