x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Why cooler heads are reaching for umbrellas

Stores report big sales increases as people use colourful brollies to protect themselves against the fierce sun.

As summer sets in people use umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun's rays in Dubai.
As summer sets in people use umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun's rays in Dubai.

DUBAIi // Weather forecasters are not expecting any rain for the next seven months, but shops are reporting that sales of umbrellas are heating up. It is the sun, not rain, that people are protecting themselves from as dozens of brightly coloured umbrellas can be seen bobbing up and down the streets of Dubai and some shop owners have reported a sharp increase in sales.

"It is too hot and dangerous to walk around without one, and it is important to protect my skin from the rays," said Maria Theresa, a 38-year-old Filipina in Karama. "I carry it around with me all the time, whether it's raining or the sun is shining. I'm not the only one. My whole family has an umbrella, even my little girl who is four years old." Mrs Theresa is just one of thousands in the UAE who are taking steps to protect their skin against the sun's potentially dangerous rays. Stores and supermarkets have reported a large increase in the past month in their sales of umbrellas.

"We have seen around a 35 per cent increase in umbrella sales in the last month," said a sales assistant in Choithram in Karama. "We are probably selling roughly 50 per week and we've only just finished the month of May." A branch of the Hang Ten clothing store in Bur Dubai recorded a 40 per cent surge in sales in the past month. "We are selling at least three per day now," said Sheila Williams, the supervisor of the store.

Umbrellas there can be found in bright green or pink plaid and packaged in a way to fit in a handbag. According to Ms Williams, umbrellas have become a fashion accessory, with the younger generation choosing brightly coloured and patterned ones to go with certain styles or clothing. The older generation and men tended to go for grey, brown, and black, she said. In Geant supermarket in Ibn Battuta Mall, there has also been an increase.

According to a sales assistant, there have been 25 per cent more umbrellas flying off the shelves since the start of May, with at least 30 to 35 being sold each week. "I'm buying another one this year for sure," said Galo Palacios, a security guard based in Satwa. "I buy a new one every year without fail. "Some men feel strange holding an umbrella in the sun, but for me, my health is more important. I want to protect myself from melanoma and skin cancer."

Although one of the rarer types of skin diseases, melanoma is more likely to occur in sunny climates, especially among males and those of Caucasian origin. According to a World Health Organisation report published in 2006, there are a reported 48,000 cases of melanoma-related deaths around the globe every year. Umbrella use in the summer months is largely popular among the Filipino population, but the trend has attracted other nationalities.

"It's too hot to walk around without protection and they provide shade and make it cooler," said Preema De Souza, a 21-year-old Indian, who was using an umbrella for the summer for the first time. nsamaha@thenational.ae