x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

How to beat the UAE chill

I've found myself unwittingly engaging in impassioned debates about when the seemingly unseasonal weather engulfing the UAE will pass.

If there's one topic of conversation guaranteed to set me snoozing, it's the weather. From small talk to the five-day forecast on CNN, I automatically tune-out when complaints of rain or gripes about gales crop up. What never fails to surprise me is the stereotypical obsession with the topic in the UK and Ireland, best demonstrated by the flurry of Facebook posts that appear within seconds of the sun putting his hat on in November or snow falling in April.

I think the main reason the weather piques my interest not one bit is because I have absolutely no complaints about it, living in an eternally temperate region. That said, for the past two months I've found myself unwittingly engaging in impassioned debates about when the seemingly unseasonal weather engulfing the UAE will pass. As windblown taxi doors slam shut on body-parts, shamals erase skyscrapers from the city's skyline and gas heaters reappear at al fresco restaurants - everyone, it would appear, is wondering what's going on.

Socially, expats have embarked upon a game of "who's the best historical meteorologist?" with those having lived here the longest deeming themselves an authority on whether this year's chilly coastal breezes are indeed more severe than those experienced in 1985.

Whatever the records show, in my brief four-year residency, it is certainly the coldest March I can recall and suffering eternally from cold tips and toes, as the mercury levels have fallen, I've found myself going to extreme lengths to keep warm.

With no central heating, one particularly nippy night I resorted to turning my cooker gauge to 200¿C and leaving the door open for a spell to let the fan work its magic. Effective as it was in heating my humble abode, it didn't appear the most environmentally sound of measures; hence it went back to baking potatoes for Bompani.

So imagine my delight last week at discovering my local pharmacy's newly stocked range of hot water bottles, complete with furry, exotic animal-print jackets. In what proved to be possibly the shrewdest Dh20 I have ever spent, these days I'm almost at risk of overheating during the night due to the container's astounding, heat-retentive properties.

But by far the greatest way to stay warm - and it's hardly new - I discovered on a trip to London last month. I am talking about Uggs and, love them or loathe them, there is nothing on this planet guaranteed to toast your tootsies quite like a pair of these sheepskin clodhoppers. Having looked disdainfully down at these Hobbit-like booties for years, I finally relented and must admit they entirely live up to the hype. Debuting them in public, however, remains another matter. After all, cosy and classy never were the best of friends.