An Englishman finds that he needs to reconsider his tried-and-true deoderant in the suffocating heat of Abu Dhabi.
Summer begins to set in and already it is scorching. The concrete of Abu Dhabi retains the heat like a greenhouse. The sun beats down relentlessly, the air is almost suffocating, and we're still two months from August. Sometimes when I'm walking I swear the city smells like a sauna, but that could be dehydration deceiving my senses. Is that an oasis up ahead, or merely melting tarmac?
It is times like these that make or break a deodorant and I have always remained relatively loyal to my brand. It guarantees 24-hour protection. It claims to be an antiperspirant. I am told a heat-activated formula will not let me down. For the last several years it has served me well - especially after I gave up sport in pursuit of less healthy habits. But that was in England, where the temperature rarely breaches the 20s. When it does, it is considered a heatwave and a health hazard. The government, like a loving nanny, issues warnings with the public's best interest in mind: drink plenty of water, avoid the midday sun, look after the elderly. Families flock to beaches, swarms surround ice cream vans. Children caked in sun cream run riot, driven temporarily insane in this strange season that comes after spring.
As soon as the sun starts to shine, nearly everybody dons their summer gear, making the most of the weather because it will no doubt rain tomorrow. But here, the heat is guaranteed. I have been warned to expect a long summer spent indoors, moving from air-conditioned office to air-conditioned taxi to air-conditioned home. I have been told that many people leave the country. But the English are used to entertaining themselves indoors because it rains through much of the year. When it rains people generally complain, but come the heatwave (the mercury soaring beyond 20°C), bitter mutters are heard over fish and chips beside a shingle beach: it's too hot.
For a while after I moved to Abu Dhabi, the heat was bearable. Then the sweat began to show. In this climate there is little we can do to prepare for the inevitable except, maybe, drink lots of water and make sure the air-conditioning - and your deodorant - is working. Mine, however, no longer seems resistant to perspiration. In fact, it makes little difference. Puddles form as I wait for a taxi to go to work. I was initially disheartened but have now decided to search for a new and better brand. I have heard of another one that promises not to let me down, tested at 58°C, so they say. I wonder if it is being sold in the UAE.