x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

The coolest jacket to hit Dubai

Air-cooled jacket offers the wearer a cool breeze, but high temperatures might prove a challenge, our reporter discovers.

National Reporter Caline Malek tests the cooling jacket used by inspectors at the Department of Economic Development.  Razan Alzayani/The National
National Reporter Caline Malek tests the cooling jacket used by inspectors at the Department of Economic Development. Razan Alzayani/The National

DUBAI // The navy-blue anorak-style jacket has two fans located in the lower back area and a switch to choose between high and low speeds.

Once four AA batteries are inserted, a small motor is placed in an inside pocket and the air-cooled jacket is ready for operation. With the fans in motion, a light breeze is felt throughout the jacket.

"The batteries allow it to work for seven hours," said Omar Al Mehairi the Department of Economic Development's director of development and follow-up in the commercial compliance and consumer protection sector in Dubai. "You can recharge it, too."

I decided to give the jacket a try to see just how comfortable it would be to wear outside.

After zipping the jacket up to my chin, I started to feel a much stronger and cooler breeze through my sleeves, and around my back and front. The jacket inflates and the cool air flows up to my neck which immediately brings my body temperature down.

"It comes in different sizes," Mr Al Mehairi said. "Once you zip up the jacket, you get more air condensed inside it."

Two white straps at the top of the jacket allow it to be tightened, which automatically makes the air a bit cooler.

But once I step outside, the heat instantly returns. It takes a few minutes for the jacket to adapt to the 40°C temperatures.

Initially, it just feels like warm air blowing inside an anorak - a bit of a nightmare in the Dubai heat with the strong sun hitting me at mid-day. My long hair only makes it worse and it starts to feel like a bit of a sauna on my upper back.

But after a few minutes, my body temperature starts to cool down. My face, although very hot initially, begins to lose its redness once I put it closer to the jacket's open collar.

It would probably need a stronger cooling system in the coming months for inspectors to make sure they felt at ease.

Items like these are crucial for workers who spend most of their time outdoors, experts say.

"It's very important because some of the factors which affect humans are heat and temperature," said Dr Tarek Abdul Hadi Abdul Azeem, a professor and consultant of internal medicine at Al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi. "Part of our brain, called the hypothalamus, contains temperature regulation which is responsible for thermoregulation. The external environment like temperatures can affect it.

"These jackets are a good idea because it helps in how we can deal with these changes in temperature and help the human body. People who work outdoors in the summer are more reliable to heat stroke or heat exhaustion which might be life-threatening."

cmalek@thenational.ae