Sorry, but my subject for the day isn’t anything deep. It’s simple–summertime heat. If you know the Middle East exists, you know that it has a reputation for being hot, so the notion probably doesn’t surprise you. This year Abu Dhabi isn’t disappointing in the heat department, either. Last year in 2013 we had a rather mild spring, with a good amount of rain throughout April. That kept the temperatures comparatively low. There wasn’t much rain last month, however, and as May draws nigh to a close, the mercury is leaping higher and higher. Let me share a story or two to illustrate what it’s like.
My cousin is visiting from the USA right now, and Jenia and I have been showing her around. We spent a day in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi over the weekend. During our Dubai time, we were mostly indoors, seeing the tremendous Dubai Mall and such. I got sick of being cooped up inside, and ventured out to walk near the base of the world’s tallest building, with Jenia and the baby accompanying me. “Man, that feels good,” I quipped as we stepped out of the air conditioning. Jenia didn’t seem to agree, but she kept her peace. It was mighty warm out and very muggy. After about ten minutes, the little one was bright red, and Jenia retreated with him to shade and then the air conditioning. We then went to the beach with the aim of swimming at Jumeriah Beach. To our disappointment, we found the nice beach with paid admission, snazzy park, and, most importantly, showers, had no parking available at all, since most everyone evidently fancied a dip to get some relief from the blazing sun. Consequently, we drove to the next public access beach, which, on the plus side, offers a great view of the Burj al Arab, but has no showers. “I’ve never seen it so crowded,” Jenia said, surprised by the mob on the sand and in the water. We paddled our feet instead of going for a proper swim. In truth, the water was so warm that it wouldn’t have seemed very refreshing in the first place–a surprise when you’ve been accustomed to the Atlantic’s constant coolness, as my cousin was. When we returned to the car, the humidity was so high that the car’s body had fogged over while parked, as if it had been driven through a thick haze.
While in Abu Dhabi, we visited the Emirates Palace, a palatial hotel owned by the UAE government and operated by the Kempinski hotel group. We kicked around the hotel, exploring the opulent (though questionably tasteful) interior. Eventually, we went outside to have a gander at the grounds. Jenia’s sunglasses fogged over when she stepped through the doors. In the space of only a few minutes (perhaps up to 15), we were all dripping sweat. My shirt was almost entirely soaked, and my linen pants were wet all down the backs of my legs. At one point, when I put the baby in his carseat, the sweat was dripping from my nose and splashing onto the upholstery. I’m a lightweight guy–not the kind who sweats easily, so it means something when I’m dripping like a faucet.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi, being coastal cities, are much more humid than Al Ain. Al Ain’s heat is easier to bear, owing to the dryness of the air. The sweat doesn’t start pouring off you as quickly. Still, triple-digit heat is intense. We’re in Al Ain now, and today’s high was, according to my iPhone’s weather app, 113F, the same as yesterday. Other thermometers are reading hotter, and it’s hard to know what to rely on. Regardless, the heat here is akin to that of an oven. My cousin wears a stunned expression every time she sets foot outdoors. I tell her, “At least you get a real experience. The heat is something to write home about.” That doesn’t seem to help her enjoy it, unfortunately.
So there you have it. The hottest part of the year is still well on the horizon, and it’s already super hot. But I expect the heat now, and I smile, because it’s all part of the experience of living in the UAE.