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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – In the air travel hub of Dubai, there's a new way to fly: A zip line run by extreme sports company XDubai.
XDubai, which began its operations in 2015, is associated with the crown prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, known by millions for his Instagram exploits. The zip line fits into the extreme-sports aesthetic of this city-state, already a popular skydiving destination where parachutes deploy daily among its skyscrapers.
The view from the start of the zip line is just as breathtaking. The Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at 828 meters (2,716 feet), looms to your left, along with the under-construction, ship-shaped Dubai Opera. Directly ahead lies the massive Dubai Mall and the dancing Dubai Fountain, whose nightly music-and-light shows see water sprayed 140 meters (460 feet) into the air. The Address Downtown Dubai hotel, draped in tarps since catching fire on New Year's Eve, is on your right.
To reach the zip line, I entered one of the many residential towers surrounding the Burj Khalifa, taking an elevator up to the 25th floor and walking up a utility staircase to the roof. There, XDubai workers helped me into a zip-line harness that has a small satchel attached to hold riders' personal belongings.
I waited on a metal staircase, watching those before me screech, squeal and shout as they went over the edge. When my turn came, XDubai staff strapped me in and told me to keep my feet up going over the edge. Other than that, it was a quick one-two-three count before I too got pushed out into the open air.
The air whipped around my face on the 45-second ride 90 meters (300 feet) in the air, the blue waters of the Dubai fountain beneath me as I hollered as well despite myself. Just as my feet reach the mall, the line caught, throwing my feet up in front of me.
Halted, hanging in the air, an XDubai worker asked me if I had a good time. I definitely had.
If You Go...
XDUBAI'S XLINE: Transiting fliers or visitors to Dubai can find XDubai's zip line by taking a taxi or the city's metro to the Dubai Mall. Tickets are 600 dirhams ($160) a person and can be purchased at a stand in the mall's basement for trips until April 30; www.xdubai.com/xline.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jon-gambrell.