Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Weather

I'm English, so traditionally I only talk about the weather. However, in Dubai we don't really have weather, we have climate. In the winter the climate is very pleasant. In the summer it's viciously hot, at times reaching 49.999 degrees Centigrade.

Now the summer is over, and daytime peak temperatures are dropping. Today, we did actually have a spot of weather. We had serious fog. The reasons for fog are a bit complex, having to do with relative humidity and temperature. But basically what we had this morning was a cloud at ground level. And it was warm.

I don't like fog at the best of times, especially if I have to drive in it. In the Emirates, driving in fog is much more risky than doing it in England for the simple reason that most drivers here are not very experienced in fog and do not seem to know how to do it. I don't claim to be an expert, but I do know that you should limit your speed so that you would be able to stop safely if you encountered a stationary vehicle on the road ahead. And as the fog gets denser then your speed needs to drop correspondingly.

But many drivers here have no concept of that. They believe that because they are on a major highway, they should travel at 120 kph, or more, just as they always do. As a concession to the fog, about 30% of them will do this with their hazard lights on. About 10% of those drivers also think that full-beam headlights are a great idea.

I don't know where these people got the idea that they should use their hazard lights in fog. There doesn't seem to be anything like the British Highway Code here, so I don't know what the official legal position is on the subject. What I do know is that as a British driving licence holder I can get a UAE one simply by passing an eye test. But drivers from most Asian and African countries have to learn how to drive all over again and pass a test. The chances of any of them ever having a lesson in foggy conditions are extremely slim, so I guess they're just improvising.

Anyway, I managed to do the school run and get to the office without incident, and the fog cleared by 9 a.m. But the rest of the day remained very humid. Just thought you'd like to know.