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Tue 4 Nov 2008 04:00 AM

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Ice skating in the sun and sand

Dubai Ice Rink to employ super cool technology to create Olympic-sized attraction in the city's new mall.

Dubai Ice Rink at The Dubai Mall is developing 1.5 inches (38 mm) of ice - nearly three times the thickness of an NHL ice rink - for the highly anticipated Olympic-sized attraction.

Using refrigeration plant technology, preparation of the ice rink involves a complex layering process, involving thin layers of water frozen directly into the concrete platform, or the eventual ice rink.

Dubai Ice Rink employs the latest technology to create, and maintain the ‘frozen ice' consistency in an indoor venue. Similar to a giant refrigerator, glycol (refrigerant liquid) is pushed through a network of pipes or coils embedded into the concrete platform.

The concrete pad is initially cooled for a period of five or six days to prevent cracking. During the layering process which happens over the course of a 10-day period, water is laid and frozen in thin layers until the ideal thickness is reached.

Dubai Ice Rink will feature a 1.5 inch (38 mm) ice bed, required to withstand the multi-activity skating and daily usage with a built-in thermostat to automatically adjust the underlying cooling system to keep the ice frozen. Overall, Dubai Ice Rink's ice-making process takes up to two weeks given its Olympic-sized proportions.

Dubai Ice Rink will be a key attraction for not only mall visitors, but to the city as a whole. Two-hour public skating sessions will be on offer throughout the day, every day in addition to specialised ‘Learn to Skate' programmes and a year-round calendar of events.

Ice Marshals will be at hand at all times during public skating hours to ensure customer safety and a zamboni (ice cleaning machine) will be deployed across the rink every couple of hours to ensure top quality ice at all times. It takes approximately 15 minutes for the highly technical machine to clean the Olympic-sized rink.

A multi-purpose venue, Dubai Ice Rink will feature a year-round events calendar both on and off the ice including themed skating events, figure skating shows, sporting matches and concerts.

For non-ice events, Dubai Ice Rink is designed to convert into a multi-functional hall supported by a world-class multimedia system including a 20m x 10m LED screen.

To do this, the ice rink would be covered with insulating floor panels to prevent melting, and a temporary seating and a stage would be installed. In this format, Dubai Ice Rink could host a capacity of up to 2,000 guests.

The Operations Manager of Dubai Ice Rink, Richard Rowlands, was a Welsh figure skating champion for seven years and during the same time was also a figure skating pairs champion.

He was also a British senior championship medalist in 2000 and 2001, and has since coached students competing in the British championships. He has competed in international competitions including the world junior figure skating championships and was a member of the British Olympic team between 1998 and 2001.

Rowlands said: "Dubai Ice Rink in itself is an exciting facility, bringing the first-ever Olympic-sized ice rink to Dubai. A top-class facility offering the best of equipment including over 1,800 pairs of skates imported from a leading manufacturer in Italy to fit children and adults of all ages and sizes, the Dubai Ice Rink will host themed nights, Learn-to-Skate programmes, figure skating lessons and hockey matches."

He added: "The advanced technology used at the Dubai Ice Rink ensures that the consistency of the ice-bed is maintained at all times. By incorporating the refrigerator technology of pushing in glycol through a network of pipes, and monitoring the cooling over a period of five to six days, the 38 mm ice-bed is tailored to withstand multiple activities in a safe environment."

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