(CNN) — Visitors to Dubai tend to make time for the sights and the malls. But few pitch up with a wetsuit and surfboard.
This could be a missed opportunity, according to Daniel van Dooren, the Dutch-British co-founder of Surf House — a one-stop shop for all things wavy situated on Kite Beach, Dubai.
“People don’t realize you can surf here — they perceive Dubai as a desert destination,” says van Dooren. “But we have fantastic white sand beaches here.”
The surfing entrepreneur grew up in the Emirate and says the change has been dramatic.
Kite Beach was once a fishing port known for pearl diving. After intensive development of the waterfront — now full of restaurants and watersport facilities – it reminds van Dooren of Hawaii and California.
Surf House Dubai now claims to have more than 3,000 members – up from “no more than a dozen surfers” in the mid-1990s.
In 2014, Dubai resident Mo Rahma became the first Emirati surfer to compete in professional international competition.
Dubai’s climate produces “surfable waves” on approximately 90-100 days of the year, says van Dooren. But even on the other days there are alternatives.
The hydrofoil – an electric surfboard that lifts the rider above the water – could be a game-changer.
“There’s so much you can do – jumps, airs, ride waves and on flat water – it’s really versatile,” he says.
This innovation also gives surfing a suitable twist for the setting.
“I think foiling is the perfect image for Dubai,” says van Dooren. “This is the future of watersports – and Dubai is all about the future.”