A new tourist site in the UAE relies on the enduring properties of steel for the longest zipline in the world, resulting in a unique and thrilling experience
The UAE’s remote Ras Al Khaimah mountain range is perhaps the last place you would expect to find the world’s longest zipline.
But by harnessing the power of steel, Toroverde Ecological Park overcame incredible logistical challenges to open the Jebel Jais Flight zipline in January 2018 and – thanks to its single unbroken span of 2,831.88m – was awarded with the accolade of being the longest on the planet by Guinness World Records.
Jebal Jais is the UAE’s highest mountain, and the zipline begins an impressive 1,680m from the ground. Even at its lowest point visitors will find themselves 400m above sea level.
The conditions that go hand-in-hand with constructing a zipline in such a challenging environment presented a tough set of challenges for the engineering and installation teams.
The best of both worlds
“Pretty much all of the construction was a challenge,” says Ricardo Lizano, COO at Toroverde. “We are talking about the longest zipline in the world, ending in a hanging platform 80 metres in the air, surrounded by very complicated topography in huge, rocky mountains.”
Undeterred by these difficult building conditions, the Jebel Jais team began work on the tourist attraction in August 201, taking just six months to complete the project. A combination of determination, engineering expertise and the flexible properties of steel were key in enabling Toroverde to create this stunning example of modern engineering.
“With steel, you can do beautiful architectural things and at the same time easily comply with demanding structural requirements.”
“For the zipline, we used a custom-made, compacted steel cable. We then used steel to build both the launching platform and the end platform,” says Lizano.
“We chose to use steel in the construction because it is a very user-friendly material that offers the best of both worlds. With steel, you can do beautiful architectural things and at the same time easily comply with demanding structural requirements.”
Lizano stresses that the most complicated challenge was fixing the cable in place from one side to another – an expanse equivalent to 28 soccer fields – and suspending the end platform.
He says, “It’s a nine tonne structure that hangs in the air, and there was no space for a crane, so we had to do it the old-fashioned way with working cables and pull lifts.”
A global attraction
Zipline users are able to reach speeds of up to 150km per hour, and a special harness allows them to be positioned like birds in flight – just two of the features that are helping to attract adrenaline junkies from across the world. The steel-built suspended platforms also feature incredible transparent flooring, ensuring breathtaking views at any point during the experience.
Lizano says, “We have had stories of people travelling all the way from Europe just to do the Jebel Jais Flight, coming here directly from the airport, staying one night and then going back home.
“There has been a truly incredible reaction – not only to the ride itself, but to the location and the amazing steel platforms.”