Sunday, February 04, 2007


Hold The Front Page!

The UAE is having weather. If you don't live here, you might not think this is a big deal. But the point is, we don't normally have weather, what we have is climate. The climate in the UAE goes like this: in the summer, it's chuffing hot (up to but never officially exceeding 50°C). In the depths of winter, it can get as cold as, ooh, 17°C. You can expect 4-5 days when it will rain, and a few mornings when it is foggy. This 'winter' has been unusual, methinks. We have had a lot of rain. Yesterday we had half an inch of the stuff in about 15 minutes - thunder and lightning too. Today has been overcast all day. We had a massive shamal (sandstorm) about 1 pm, following which the air was full of sand, no wind was blowing, and El Sol was starting to come out. Just now (from 7pm really), we've had another thunderstorm, and about 15 minutes of really heavy rain.

This rain creates all sorts of problems, of course. Drivers in Dubai, who, with the exception of GCC nationals and locals, all come from places where it rains a shitload more than it does here, forget how to drive in wet weather. They continue to tailgate, drive too fast, attempt rapid lane changes, etc, and consequently end up upside down in their crushed motorcars. Fortunately they are not wearing their seatbelts so they are able to escape.

Locals and GCC nationals don't stand a chance. They just don't get enough parctice at driving in rain.

Here in The Gardens we have the added bonus of a bunch of speed bumps that have been installed on the perimeter roads. You do see the odd speed bump around town that has a gap between its ends and the kerb to allow water to drain through. Regrettably, the speedbumps in The Gardens do not have this clever little design feature, and so they act as dams, creating quite large lakes on the road on their uphill sides.

And usually, when rain is expected, the Municipality sends workers out to empty the sand filters that are a component of most of the drains: when they have done this, they usually leave the drain cover up, thereby facilitating the flow of water. I have not seen any of this happen in The Gardens this year (or ever, actually), so guess what: floods down the hill. Roads around Ibn Battuta Maul under six inches of water. The Maul itself still lacks waterproof roofs.

Still, it could be worse, we could be living in Sharjah where they have no road drainage whatsoever. And it's still only 1428.

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