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From Doha, With Love : Summer In The Desert


 

 Desert Summer

SO I'm in Doha again, this time experiencing summer since so much has been said about the Middle Eastern summers. All my trips here to visit the husband had been during its cool winters, and while I do like the region's mild winters, I'd also love to experience its legendary summer heat.

"It's not too bad now, you're lucky. At its peak, which is usually in June, July and August, the temperature can go up to 52 deg (Celsius). Just stepping out of a building totally drenches you like you've taken a bath. Clothes stick to your skin and you're just sticky all over," warned a Malaysian aircraft engineer whom I met on my flight here on Tuesday.

So I'll need waterproof mascaras during summer time, I thought to myself. But I still couldn't imagine such an extremity.

Fifty-two degrees. I've never experienced anything more than 34 deg, which is the hottest in Kuala Lumpur and even that doesn't occur all the time - only during the Chinese New Year  (in Jan or Feb). Additionally, we also have plenty, and I mean plenty of rain throughout the year to balance off all that sun. The average rainfall is 250cm a year[and the average temperature is 27 deg. Although hot and humid throughout, the climate in the Peninsula differs from East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak), as the former is directly affected by wind from the mainland, as opposed to the more maritime weather of the East.

I've always thought that the Malaysian humidity level was intimidating, but when I stepped out of the plane on Tuesday, I realised that we're talking about a different kind of humidity here in Qatar. At 40 deg, the heat was strangely tolerable, as if it was a warm embrace.I found it somewhat soothing after a seven-hour journey in a very cold plane, but the humidity...Well. That was something else. The air was thin and hot. It felt like breathing in too much of steam at once, and in fact, for the first couple of days, breathing was difficult whenever I stayed out for more than 15 minutes. Maybe that's why people here generally stay indoors, where the temperature is really low, upped by fancy state-of-the-art air-conditioning systems. So yes. You'd still need a jacket or a sweater when you're inside malls.

With such high temperatures, one needs to take heed of heat stroke warnings. Travellers are warned of it, and during the season, work hours are shortened for those who work outdoors (I think there is a government directive that prohibits labourers from working under direct sunlight from 11am to 3pm). Most activities are done indoors, and there is even an indoor go-karting track cuz it's just too hot to be racing outside! If you ask me, I think cooping up indoors to avoid the extreme heat is just as depressing as staying in during a mean winter time. But a hot climate should be more manageable than a very cold one cuz the freezing point and a damp indoor would drive me insane (of course, the outdoor would be depressing too). Or maybe I'm saying that cuz I haven't experienced the 52 deg madness.

At an average of 75mm per annum, rainfall is scarce in Qatar : only falling on isolated days mostly between October to March. So when it actually rains, people (mostly kids) come out and celebrate in the shower. They snap photos in the rain. I suppose rain for them, is like what snow is to me - a wonder. Sometimes the rain even brings along floods in some parts due to the lack of a proper drainage system ( like the monsoon drains that we have here) but they could deal with that as it hardly ever rains.

It's about 10.30am now and the temperature outside is touching 40 deg. I've just switched off  the air-conditioning in my room, and have opened the windows wide. The room is gradually warming up and getting some fresh wind, and I'm loving it. Strangely, it's soothing and the humidity isn't bothering me as much as it did before.

Comments

  1. Sounds like the perfect climate for a nudist colony. Maybe the Qataris will be ready to give it a go in 500 years time. What you really need in a place like that is a mountain range to hang out in during summer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. wow - I can't begin to imagine what 52 degrees must feel like. the hottest I've ever experienced was 45.

    ReplyDelete
  3. GB: there are sand dunes here, and it's pretty exciting during winter time :)

    Nursie & MDIAS : I know..52 degrees is beyond any imagination :p thats why the rich ones flee the country during summer.

    Jaya J

    ReplyDelete
  4. You have a really nice blog! :D

    ReplyDelete
  5. We have legendary heat in Texas too, it was a very hot summer this year.

    ReplyDelete

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