It’s widely known among desert dwellers that summertime, rather than winter, is when we feel down in the dumps due to being trapped indoors and running the air-conditioned car-to-climate-controlled mall gauntlet.
What’s more, as people retreat from the sun, life here becomes less sociable. There are no afternoons spent BBQ-ing with friends in summer, no kids playing on the streets and, unless you’re up and out at dawn, beach trips are abandoned because it’s literally too hot for the seaside.
Add to this the fact that nearly all your friends vanish overnight on ‘home leave’, just as your kids break up from school for two months, and it’s easy to see why summer in the Gulf can trigger an inverted variety of seasonal affective disorder, or the ‘winter blues’ as it’s known in other parts of the world – complete with a vitamin D deficiency due to sun avoidance.*
Peering at BB’s slightly sunken-looking eyes today, I even wondered if he might be suffering from an overdose of processed air. “I just want to stay home and watch TV, and play with my Lego,” he told me, exhibiting the classic hibernation symptoms that so many of us display at this time of year.
We’re heading off soon, but several of my good friends are staying in the sandpit for at least some of the summer. One, who’s waiting until the schools break up in England before leaving, wrote on Facebook, “This is my fourth summer in Dubai and it’s been sweat and tears all the way.
“This year, I plan to do it with poise. See me anytime in the compound or at the mall and just check out that poise!” she put.
So, with this dear friend in mind, here are my tips for mums who are sticking around (excuse the pun) and want to create the illusion of appearing both cool and sane this summer:
● Make your own ice cubes from fruit juice and gin
● Avoid manmade fibres like nylon or rayon, which simulate being suffocated slowly in a plastic bag
● Keep a spray bottle in the fridge and give yourself a good squirt, like elephants do – starting with your wrists to quickly cool down your bloodstream
● Wear a moisturiser with SPF on your face every day – put it on before you open the curtains
● Tackle humidity hair with a shot of dry shampoo during the day
● Buy a SolarKindle protective case for your Kindle and let the sun charge the battery
● Keep in mind that retail hara-kiri (Carrefour on a Friday afternoon) won’t be so bad over summer with everyone gone
● Next time you spot Modhesh (the yellow, coiled mascot for the annual Dubai Summer Surprises festival), rather than wanting to run him over, tell yourself he’s the result of a love-fest between a banana and a slinky and you might feel more endeared to him
● Forget poise, you need a posse. Go to the salon for a cucumber facial, valet park at the mall, hire a dog walker and enlist help to entertain the sprogs
*Researchers have actually shown that people who live in the UAE may be prone to SAD in the summer – and those who wear sun cream, abayas or khandouras block still further what little vitamin D their bodies can absorb