The dos and don’ts of a Dubai summer

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– Bother straightening your hair. Within an hour you’ll look like a lion with a proudly fizzy mane (“That scene from the Lion King, where Simba shakes his head as he gets out of the pool, singing hakuna matata,” says my friend B. “That’s me and POOF!

– Leave your sunglasses in the car. The rim of your Ray-Bans will burn your face.

– Wear jeans. Peeling them off will feel like shedding your own skin.

– Be surprised if you find yourself in a shopping mall… again.

– Visit friends who don’t use their air conditioning.

 – Feel guilty for staying indoors all day.

– Think taxi drivers are rude for rolling their window up really fast to stop the hot air coming in.

– Forget to wear flip-flops until the moment you get in the pool, or you’ll find yourself hopping around like a jackrabbit on steroids.


– Brace yourself for third-degree burns when touching the car steering wheel after leaving your vehicle in the sun.
*Ouch* … “Oven glove!! Where are you?”

– Get used to buildings sweating as humidity condensation drips down the windows.

– Wipe your phone screen on your T-shirt before sending a text.

– Save yourself the bother of ironing your clothes. The heat and humidity will make you wet and crinkled anyway.

– Apply sunscreen before you even open the curtains.

– Towel off the wet patches that appear on the back of your knees.

– Vow to get up an hour earlier to enjoy the cool of the morning. And then oversleep.

– Take care walking in the mist (when your sunglasses steam up after getting out the car).

– Skip blow-drying your hair. Winding the window of your car down is like turning on a hairdryer and directing it at your face.

– Turn off the hot-water tank. The sun-warmed water from the cold tap is hot enough for showers.

– Wonder why the odd person out running or cycling during the day hasn’t died.

– Open your car window when you get in – breathing in the fumes in an enclosed space filled with super-heated dashboard plastics is like doing glue from hot vinyl bottles.

– Look out for ‘staycation’ hotel deals that are so good they’re practically carrying you inside.


Who left the oven on?

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 22.27.53At school drop-off this morning, the usual line-up of big cars jostled for position up and down the length of the road. This nearly always involves double-parking then running into school at lightning speed to deposit Son2, before hot-footing it back to move my vehicle.

I’m Speedy Gonzales. The last thing you want at that ungodly-hour of the morning is to get back to your car and find you’ve blocked someone in who has a dental (or hair) appointment to get to. I’ve messed up before – a mum was waiting for me, her penciled-on eyebrows hovering somewhere near her hairline. We had ‘words’. Never again.

This morning, I glanced at the woman parked in front of me as she grappled with a shiny, metallic-silver sunshade. She attached it to her car’s windshield as though she was blindfolding the window. It’s common practice here if you’re leaving your car outdoors all day. Apparently the deflective heat shield stops the dashboard losing its colour in the UV light. Whether it also means you can hold the steering wheel without being burnt when you return to your car, I’m not sure.

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Breathing through hot, sticky treacle takes a little know-how 

We’ve reached that time of year, you see. When you step out of your car into the heat of the morning and it’s only 7.45am. You lock the doors with a click and breathe in air that’s already heavy – thick with a cloying sultriness that turns your car into an oven while stationary.


At work, I’ve noticed the journalists don’t particularly want to go out to meetings anymore. I don’t have too far to walk from the car to my office building, but by the time I enter the wide, glass doors, there are already beads of perspiration forming in the fine lines on my forehead and between my shoulder blades. The office, in contrast, is blissfully cool and I take a moment to enjoy the feel of the air-conditioning hitting my skin.

I feel very lucky, actually, to be in work when the temperature rises. As well as AC, there’s a circular Dyson fan mounted on a pedestal, which somehow cleverly wafts a breeze over without any moving blades. You can even put your head in it. In fact, I hear more complaints at work about being cold. When my friend texted today to say she was ‘dying sweating by the swimming pool while her boys had their swim lessons’, I thanked my lucky stars.

But still – we had a good, long stretch of perfect, cooler weather (5 months), and all the cloud seeding the UAE has being doing to make it rain has been much appreciated.

Dubai summer – I’m ready for you. Until I’m back on afternoon school-run duties during the hottest, sweatiest part of the day.