Regional heatwave Middle East leads to problems


‘Heatwave in Ireland’ stated the headlines in the newspapers when it turned 30 degrees during our holiday in County Wicklow a few years ago. Within days the weather forecast changed to ‘Too cold for the time of the year’ and heavy ‘Rainfall on West coast causes damage’. My children were surprised about the Irish having daily weather conversations. People never seemed to be satisfied. Too cold, too wet, too hot, too windy.

In the Middle East we never talk about the weather. It’s just not an issue. It is either hot or cold, summer or winter. We have one period living inside under the breeze of the air conditioning, and another one being outdoors following the sun. In the Middle East a cold front or heatwave simply doesn’t exist. But with the current fluctuations in temperature, I expect the weather to be the talk of the day any time soon.

Turn the taps

As I step into the shower I notice that the cold water from the tap is no longer cold. It is lukewarm. I sense that it won’t last long before the water from the tank on the roof will be at bath water temperature. It’s the time we ‘turn the taps’, as we call it when hot water from the tank runs through the cold water tap, while cold water flows pours from the warm water tap after we have switched off the heater.

But I don’t want to turn the taps! I am not ready for summer yet! I enjoy the chilly mornings and cold afternoons (read 23 degrees) in winter.  We can go outside, camp in the desert, make trips along the beach and shiver around a campfire in the mountains.  I love wearing my two fleece jackets that protect me from the cold and feel comfy in my raincoat against the wind. I walk on thick red fluffy slippers (very ugly, but comfortably warm!) and sleep under two thick winter blankets. It is the season that I don’t despise my alarm clock in the morning. Because when it’s cold and freezing in the bedroom, it is O.K. to hit it twice.

Freezing and miserable

But last weeks were miserable! Humid and cold to the bone. One early Tuesday morning it was barely 12 degrees! After all these years in this region I can’t recall one period that was as bad as this one. O.K., we had some special occasions. I recollect driving over the dunes through a thick layer of fog slaloming around camels that lied down in the sand. I remember the morning that I woke up with a view of glazed frost on the bushes in the mountains. And I will never forget the day that I threw snowballs with Omani in Jabal Akhdar mountains. That was awesome!
But these days are exceptions that prove the rule. This year it was shockingly cold for a whole month. Even my visiting friends asked me for an extra sweater while sitting outside after sunset.

Heatwave Middle East

Suddenly the weather has turned like a leaf on a tree. Last week I could only focus over a hot chocolate milk with whipped cream steaming under my cold red nose. Today I look forward to the air conditioning and a refreshing mint-juice with lots of ice. It’s mid-February and temperatures are rising to 40 degrees Celsius. ‘This is extraordinary!’ I grumble. ‘FORTY degrees! It looks like we are facing a heatwave!’ ‘Maybe’, my son murmurs, continuing to read aloud the heads of a British newspaper on his computer screen. ‘The East is on the verge of a real winter fall’.

‘What did you say?! Did I hear that well?’ I am not sure if I understood him correctly and pour out an avalanche of questions on him. ‘There is a cold front coming? When? How long? Where exactly?’ Enthusiastically I hit him on his shoulder expecting him to share my excitement with him.
‘Hold on.. ‘, he replies to me with this incomprehensible look only teenagers can give their parents. ‘This is a British weather report… They are not talking about the Middle East here.’