Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

End to UAE's scorching summer is near as Suhail star is spotted

The star's appearance traditionally marked the end of the pearl diving season, but don't turn off the air conditioning just yet

Suhail is the second-brightest star in the sky and once guided pearl divers and Hajj pilgrims. Today, it is used in space navigation. Reem Mohammed / The National
Suhail is the second-brightest star in the sky and once guided pearl divers and Hajj pilgrims. Today, it is used in space navigation. Reem Mohammed / The National

Suhail has appeared, bringing relief to the UAE that the scorching summer days are coming to a close.

The emergence of the star every year in late August meant one thing to ancient mariners and farmers: winter is coming.

This year, Suhail returned to the skies above the UAE in the early hours of August 24.

With more people staying in the country this year because of Covid-19 and temperatures near 50°C some days, the news is a welcome relief.

According to the ancient drour calender of the Gulf, the emergence of Suhail heralds the end of the traditional pearl diving season and the beginning of clement weather.

Known as Canopus in the West, Suhail is the second-brightest start in the sky after Sirius and once guided pearl divers and Hajj pilgrims as they navigated across sea and sand. Today, it is used in space navigation.

The 365-day drour calendar measures the year in 10-day cycles – these micro seasons are known in Arabic as dir. It has four seasons, with 100 days allocated to autumn, winter and summer, followed by a 60-day season of intense heat. Five "stolen days" are added for turbulent weather.

But don’t expect to turn off the air conditioning just yet. According to the drour, good weather does not begin until 70 to 80 days after Suhail rises. Traditionally, this is when palm pollination and camel grazing can begin.

If it still feels oppressively hot in the coming weeks, don’t blame the drour. The centuries-old calendar is possibly off kilter. Elders say climate change has dimmed its accuracy and Suhail may no longer the infallible guiding light it once was.

In the meantime, this weekend’s weather looks promising. There will be cloudy skies on the east coast and a chance of rain, with temperatures falling as low as a balmy 30°C.

Day trippers can also flee the heat by heading to Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, where temperatures dropped to 19°C on Wednesday morning, and temperatures are predicted to dip as low as 20°C this weekend, with a high of 36°C. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, temperatures will range from 33°C to 40°C this weekend.

Updated: August 29, 2020 09:35 PM

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