x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

In love with Abu Dhabi rain

A rainfall is a sign of mercy from the heavens.

It will soon become a distant memory, but the rain that blessed the UAE with its mercy recently will not be forgotten. When the first droplets appeared, wishes were uttered on the phone and typed out on our BlackBerries: "Mabrook aleekum el rahma," our way of congratulating one another for the "mercy" or "rahma" of rainfall. We took pictures of the sky to post on Twitter, and we marvelled at the miracle of rain and its ability to cleanse the roads and freshen the air.

The rain last week drew us all out into the street. We rolled down our car windows and cruised along, breathing in the smell that accompanies a rainfall. Many headed out into the desert, or towards the sea shore; anything to get closer to nature.

Weather has an uncanny ability to define one's memories. I had just come back from Europe, where the rain did not cease; a delight for those of us deprived of its presence. On this particular trip, I also experienced snow for the first time. The children in our group loved it; even our youngest, Fatima, cocooned in layers, didn't mind turning blue after a little while in the white garden. It would take her only 10 minutes of warming up inside before rushing out again to make the most of the freezing weather.

Touching the snow was the first thing I wanted to do. It was as soft and fluffy as I expected it to be. The coldness of the temperature and the crisp white blanket on the trees seemed like art. And yet, despite the beauty of it, I still prefer the warmth of our sands and the grandeur of our dunes. I think, after a while, all that white would be too much for me.

The rain in Europe, as sweet as it seemed, it does not elicit quite the same feelings as rain in Abu Dhabi.

I don't know what it is, but to me, the smell of Abu Dhabi after a rainy day is a love story. Rain reminds us of how we have no control over certain things. Even all the force in a nation can't make the clouds produce rain. Elders used to witness these climate changes, whether they bring good with them or harm, and link it to the happenings of the time, read as signals from God.

The elders of Abu Dhabi did not need a weather forecast to tell them what was coming, especially those living by the sea. They would know from the brightness of the stars, and the sound and length of the thunder. They know if the rain is going to stay for a while or if it's time to head back to the ports.

And when it comes, it is happy news, it brings relief. We prayed for it to rain, and we prayed that no harm would come with the rainfall.

When my brother saw me so thrilled with the weather, he said to me: "The winter is departing, and his farewell to you is this rain, so enjoy it now. I know you are going to miss it for a long time."