Sunday, 24 February 2008

The Weather

I have to touch on this subject, as it really is the average British person's favourite subject!  Count how many times in a week you talk about the weather . . . !!

When you say you live in Dubai, everyone expects the weather to be hot for the vast majority of the time.  Myself included.  When we arrived in January, even coming from nearly freezing temperatures, it was cold here.  The thermometer showed that it was about 19 degrees, which on paper sounds quite pleasant, but combined with the wind and the sand blowing, it really was weather you didn't want to be out in.  Follow that with January's "it never rains like this" comments . . . . and it appears that global warming is apparent in this part of the world too. 

IMG_1219Environmentalists would be up-in-arms at the lives and habits of Dubai residents.  Tim and I (shockingly) both drive monsters of cars - more out of safety than anything else, but at £10 to fill up the tank, there's hardly an incentive to drive a small car. 

You can see in the picture that Oliver doesn't even come up to the top of the bonnet on my car (lets hope he never gets hit by such a beast).  On the plus side, it does seat 8 people, so if anyone wants to come and stay . . . . . we have plenty of bed and car space. IMG_1221

Similarly, there are few recycling facilities - we did find one, 16km away, which strangely enough does not recycle glass.  Perhaps its because there is so much sand around us (picture 2 is our sandy garden) that they feel they can't be bothered.  The amount of plastic bottles we throw away is criminal.  I heard on the radio that the UAE's carbon footprint per capita is the highest in the world - even higher than the USA's.  I am ashamed to be throwing away all of this recyclable stuff each day.

Now that we are in February, a mixed month in terms of weather, we have now experienced a shamal and the expected beautiful weather. A shamal is  major sandstorm and incidentally, the one that we experienced in early February has been IMG_1180noted on Wikipedia as a notably massive sandstorm, thousands of feet deep, extending from Somalia to Mumbai in India (with Dubai in the middle) with gusts of up to 49mph.  I appreciate that this doesn't sound very much compared to the gale force winds we regularly get back at home, but throw a pile of sand in the air, wait for the wind to blow IMG_1184and it hurts to be out in one of these storms - air travel is disrupted and ground travel is strange to say the least.  Apparently, some sandstorms have been known to strip paint off cars!  The only way to describe it is that it's like yellow fog.  You look up into the air and you can see yellow with visibility at about 200m.  This was the view driving along the road with sand blowing.

We made the mistake of opening one of our doors at home - you should have seen the mess - I had a complete meltdown - dust is the devil over here.

Contrary to this strange phenomenon, we have also had some cracking days in the last month - last Friday was also the hottest day in February in history, when it hit 30 degrees.  It was rather lovely, so we went to the beach.  Most of Dubai's beaches are private beaches - although all still owned by the Sheikh, they are primarily reserved for the large 5* hotels, which mere mortals can't set foot upon, unless you pay the £300 a night price.  IMG_1189However, there are a few public ones to be found.  They are quite basic in terms of facilities, but there are bathrooms, changing rooms, and the occasional refreshment centre.  They are also fully attended by lifeguards.  The beach was swarming with people - by the time we left (mid afternoon) it rivaled Brighton beach (but not the nude one) on a summers day.

IMG_1191Ultimately, the weather is better and can be gorgeous - the children are already starting to acclimatise.  In temperatures of about 23 degrees yesterday, Ella put on a long-sleeved t-shirt and a jumper.  Oliver complained of his legs feeling cold in his shorts. Tim got his fleece out to go to the pool.  I suppose we have to as temperatures will get into the 30's shortly, IMG_1192and post June, we will be indoors most of the time.  We have a fabulous air-conditioning system in the house - we tested it the other day - but I didn't like the look in Tim's eyes when he saw the electricity meter whirring around fast . . . . something tells me I'm going to need to buy more anti-perspirant before that air-con goes on full time!

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