A Winter’s Tale

It has been a lovely winter over here in Dubai. Usually the winter is only distinguishable from the rest of the year by a slight drop in temperature: in all other ways the weather remains the same – blazing blue skies and relentless sunshine. This year, however, it has rained A LOT. We’ve had proper, pelting-it-down rain lasting for hours; we’ve had thunder storms, tenacious fog, thick cloud coverage and day-long drizzle. We’ve had plenty of sunny days too, of course, but they have been tempered by a delicious cool breeze. All in all, it has been much like an English summer, which makes me very lucky as that means I have had two English summers in the course of a year (I was home for a couple of glorious months in the middle of last year, and what a wonderful summer it was!).

cloudy dubai

On several occasions over recent weeks the temperature has plummeted to 13 degrees centigrade.  While the tourists are still optimistically strolling around in shorts and t-shirts, local residents and those from other toasty-warm Arabic and Asian countries are wearing thick woollen jumpers, waterproof trousers and fur-lined boots. Children are being sent off to school wearing winter coats stuffed with goose-down. I even saw a chap out walking his Labrador, and both man and dog were wearing fleece jackets. But people are still boldly braving the beach – shivering in their bikinis and swimming briskly in the sea. Last week, friends on a boat trip spotted a pod of dolphins playing in the surf near the Dubai coast; we are not often honoured by such guests, the sea temperatures are usually much too warm for their liking. What next? one wonders: Penguins huddling for warmth on the beaches of The Palm Jumeirah? Polar bears hunting amidst the frozen tundra of Arabian Ranches?

cloudy dubai

I have loved being able to walk around all morning or even all afternoon without getting sun stroke: going to the park, walking down to the beach, eating lunch outside. My intrepid husband has even been out running in the middle of the day, giving credence to the famous Noel Coward lyric, ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen attempt to improve their 10K PB in the midday sun…’ We have enjoyed a few cosy evenings at home as the rain poured down outside. The giant flag at the bottom of Diyafah Street has, for the first time in my memory, been fully unfurled by a strong, steady wind. Patches of sandy wasteland have sprouted with grasses and tiny bright flowers.

plants

Of course, this wintry weather is not without its drawbacks: the roads have flooded, the washing takes longer to dry and, several times, I have had to put on socks in the evenings. The cat has taken to sleeping inside the wardrobe, snuggling up on an old jumper of mine and, when the sun does shine, she stretches out on the windowsill, soaking up every single moment of warmth, like a basking reptile (but much more pretty and fluffy).

Schools have been closed due to downpours; outdoor events have been cancelled. Our favourite Greek restaurant closed their terrace seating area ‘Due to inclement weather’ (there was a chilly breeze). At the school at which I teach, the fate of Sports Day hung in the balance as PE teachers nervously watched the grey skies. In the same way that children in the UK feel it is entirely justified to stop a lesson with, ‘Miss, it’s snowing!’ (followed by a stampede to the window), children here will actually interrupt a high-level discussion on Wilfred Owen’s powerful lexical choices in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est…’ in order to tell me that it has started raining outside.

cloudy dubai

While many British expats have complained, claiming they could have stayed at home if they had wanted to be wet and miserable, I have loved every blessed, drizzly minute of it. After all, it’s only a matter of time until the skies clear, the mercury rises, the tarmac melts and the sand becomes hot enough to burn the soles of your feet. In the mean time I shall be the one out walking in the morning mist, taking pictures of the sparse desert flowers and turning my grateful face up to the cool and cloudy sky above.

[Exit, pursued by a polar bear]

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30 Comments

  1. Emily

    Beautiful. Enjoyed every word of this :-)

  2. I have totally loved it too! In fact just this morning when I saw the fog, I thought, “Yes! This is fabulous!” Yesterday at Safa Park (and it was quite warm yesterday….) I saw a little girl with EAR MUFFS and a very furry matching vest over her regular clothes. I was hot just looking at her…

    • :-D It’s hard to say if people are massively over-reacting or if they see it as a critical opportunity to make use of their winter wardrobes…

  3. Truly beautiful post, thank you for writing it. I ve never been to Dubai but you made me see how it is like this winter:)

    • Thank you for visiting H&H, Ottominuti!

      • I am a loyal follower, always happy to read your stories:)

      • Was just enjoying reading about some of your recent dining experiences! :-)

  4. I can well believe what a relief the weather has been…I would hate constant heat.
    Here too people turn out in furry jackets and those peruvian knitted hats with ear flaps as soon as there is a slight drop in the temperature – which is by no means so extreme as yours.

    • It’s a bit like the opposite of when mothers tell children to remove coats indoors so they will feel the benefit of them later… :-)

  5. Rick

    Lovely post as always, evocative and funny…..a winning combination.

    • Thank you! Our flooding is not quite as serious as the flooding in the UK, obviously… The hot sunshine soon evaporates the puddles here…

  6. Great post a really interesting read!
    Brian

    • Thanks, Brian – really loved looking at your Cornwall watercolours recently. They reminded me of my honeymoon in Coverack.

  7. I can understand the kick you get out of the rain. Very evocative writing – and the photo of that black, brooding sky is wonderful.

    • I know!! It CHUCKED it down! It’s such a novelty over here. Looking forward to catching up with your blog soon, MM x

  8. Interesting catching up with your posts too Lucy. It’s strange how we can long for the ‘normal’ even if that’s drizzle! I’m in exile too at the moment and will begin to share my journey in May. Hope you’ll join me. ps Coverack is one of our favourite spots in Cornwall too. Have you even been there on Good Friday? All the best Diana

    • I haven’t! Are there wonderful celebrations? Looking forward to hearing more about your current exile! Hope it’s not too traumatic!

  9. The community and visitors build a huge cross of stones together on the beach which you can still see shimmering through the water at high tide. As you lay your stones down you are encouraged to think of a person or your personal burden and let it go. Then you write messages or names in the sand all to be washed away when the tide comes in, except the stone cross remains and can sometimes be seen up to August. Very moving. Then they give out hotcross bus to everyone:-)

  10. This brings back memories of my time in Doha, when a shower of rain (which we only had once a year) would put the locals into a panic, especially when driving near a puddle – and they drove everywhere with their emergency lights flashing on their cars! In winter the locals (myself included of course) would be wearing jackets, jumpers and socks and the expat children who had been sent home to boarding school would come out, along with visiting family and friends, and jump into the swimming pools, beg to go camping in the desert and generally behave as though it was a hot British summer’s day! :)

  11. I hear that it hardly ever rains in Dubai, so they say make the most of it! Lovely photo of the city, you have a great view :-) Nice to visit your blog.

    • Thanks Chai! It has been a blessedly pleasant winter! – and still cloudy and relatively cool – thank heavens. Thanks for visiting H&H – do pop in again soon! :-)

  12. Hi there Lucy!
    I’ve been sniffing around on your beautiful blog for a while and we’ve exchanged several comments and likes on the world of WordPress. I’m thankful for having found your blog, even if you’ve been a little silent lately, I hope all is well especially as I wanted to ask you to contribute to a little project I have on my little old blog.
    This year I’m indulging my love of fine blog writing around the world by exploring expats blogs in far flung and intriguing places.
    I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a a short interview as part of my ‘Blogging around the world’ page. I am being totally self indulgent by exploring the background and people behind my favorite travel and expat blogs.
    If you are interested email me on: rochelledelborrello@gmail.com
    Cheers and happy blogging to you!
    Rochelle

    • Hi Rochelle – yes, I’d be delighted to do an interview for your lovely blog. I’ll drop you an email.
      Lucy :-)

      • Thanks so much, promise I’ll get back to you soon am a little snowed under with work right now but I’m happy you are interested! Cheers!
        Hope all is well with you :-)

  13. Jan Frasier

    Dear Lucy – Did you just win the Montegrappa First Fiction Prize – I was one of them too. I was hoping we could get together soon. Drop me an email.

    • Hi Jan! Thanks for getting in touch. Yes – I was the runner up!! I shall indeed drop you an email :-)

    • Jan – I can’t access your email through this… What’s your email address?

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