Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A ski shop - in the Sahara desert???

My mind boggled a bit when I read this report.

Around 30 years ago, an entrepreneur from Niger spotted a gap in the market that he thought nobody else could fill - a ski-hire shop in the Sahara desert. He is still in the ski-rental business to this day even though he has no customers.

. . .

This is Agadez, a dusty marketplace in Niger surrounded by the Sahara desert, not Courchevel in the French Alps.

The temperature here rises above 45C and when there is a bit of air it feels like somebody is holding a hairdryer right in your face.

Nobody has picked up any of these skis since 2007. Abdelkader Baba, the shop's owner, has not used them himself since then either.

He would not go skiing without tourists and they just don't venture around here anymore - kidnappings and armed attacks have kept them away.

. . .

Baba used to take tourists to the sand dunes outside town, deep in the desert.

"We'd have to climb up before six in the morning because the heat would make it impossible soon after the sun rose," he says. English, Australian, Swedish, Slovak and Japanese people were among the first to try sand dune skiing.

. . .

I ask him whether he thinks he will ever go to the dunes again. "Until European embassies stop preventing their citizens from coming up here, I don't think I will get back on these skis," he answers.

"They blame it on al-Qaeda and other jihadi militants groups but it's a shame," he says. "Death will find you wherever you are, people die in Europe too! You should be allowed to do whatever you want to do."

There's more at the link.

I know something of sandboarding, having done it in South West Africa (today Namibia) during the 1970's - I've blogged about it before.  However, we used tea-trays and bits of plywood.  The thought of actually using snow skis, and setting up a ski-shop in the middle of the Sahara Desert - not to mention in the middle of a terrorism conflict zone - is just too incongruous for words!


1 comment:

Old NFO said...

That it is... Sand skiing???