Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

'It reminds me of home’: Emiratis say British heatwave is a breeze

Emiratis and UAE residents in the UK are comparing the two climates

Mohamed Ali AlZeyoudi said the current weather is a ‘golden time’ for the UK. Courtesy Mohamed Ali AlZeyoudi
Mohamed Ali AlZeyoudi said the current weather is a ‘golden time’ for the UK. Courtesy Mohamed Ali AlZeyoudi

Britain experienced its hottest July day on record on Thursday as temperatures crept towards UAE levels – but without the air conditioning to ease the discomfort.

“We're used to having this kind of sunny weather for weeks or months at a time in the UAE,” said Mohamed Al Zeyoudi, an intern at the UAE Embassy in London, originally from Dubai. “The sunshine doesn't come often here in the UK. This is the golden time for everyone.”

The record was beaten at 1.30pm when temperatures in Heathrow, west London soared to 36.9°C. Records continued to break throughout the day with the mercury hitting 37.7°C at nearby Kew.

The previous hottest July day was recorded in 2015 with a temperature of 36.7°C, also at Heathrow.

“We're in a temperate zone and we get temperate weather,” said meteorologist Jim Dale, founder of British Weather Services.

“When we get weather like this, it goes to the extremes. We're not used to that, it's something that smacks us in the face, causes a lot of trouble and in the worst-case scenario causes deaths and illnesses.”

A man falls asleep during the heat at St.James Park in London. EPA
A man falls asleep during the heat at St.James Park in London. EPA

Devinder Bains, a personal trainer and freelance journalist who splits her time between Dubai and the UK, said she was struggling with the lack of air conditioning in most British buildings.

“It feels really hot, but the main problem is that we don’t have air conditioning,” she said.

“In Dubai, when it's hot, you stay inside so you don’t suffer. Here, you can't escape it.”

There is one advantage to summer in the UK, said Ms Bains. “In Dubai the humidity is much worse.”

Ms Bains and Mr Al Zeyoudi agreed the UAE has better infrastructure for dealing with the sizzling heat.

“Our country is better equipped when it comes to dealing with the heat. The Dubai Metro, for example, has air conditioning all the time,” said Mr Al Zeyoudi.

Britain’s infrastructure isn’t designed for extreme temperatures. The London Underground network fares particularly badly in hot temperatures, with the Bakerloo line seeing a top temperature of 31°C in one of its carriages during last year’s heatwave.

Public Health England warned people to stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, stay hydrated and check on elderly and unwell family and friends.

While Emiratis and UAE residents would rather stay inside during the hot weather, British people enjoyed getting out in the sun.

“It's the opposite here, you think: ‘I don’t know when I’ll see the sun like this again, let me get out and get sunbathing’," said Ms Bains.

Temperatures soared across Europe. The National
Temperatures soared across Europe. The National

Those who live in the Emirates know how to stay cool. Ms Bains sits next to a fan as she works and Mr Al Zeyoudi is keeping hydrated.

“I am having many drinks, juices, water, cold beverages and lots of ice,” he said.

Kandy Ackland, a teacher living in Ras Al Khaimah, shared her tactics for keeping cool.

"Here in the UK I'm just keeping a breeze through the apartment by having the windows open. Keeping the blinds down during the day helps too.

"People walk slower in the UAE and I'm doing that here now."

Brits may be basking in the sunshine, but the reason behind the heatwave might dampen the happy mood.

“These record hot days are probably due to climate change,” says Mr Dale.

“That's the icing on the cake - we'd only be talking a degree more or half a degree more, but that's a hell of a lot in meteorology.”

Mr Al Zeyoudi is also worried about the impact carbon emissions are having on the weather.

“Our globe is changing very quickly. Every summer is hotter than the last, and every winter colder than the last,” he said.

The heatwave is the third to hit Europe this year after a similar weather pattern pushed temperatures above 20 degrees for several days in February, sparking wildfires in northern England and the Alps. A June heatwave broke temperature records in France and saw wildfires ignite in Germany, Portugal and Spain.

Good news for those finding the temperatures in the UK suffocating, though. Temperatures are due to return to a normal range for the UK over the weekend.

“These few days that we're getting now will be short-lived. It's not a 1976 summer that lasted give-or-take four or five weeks,” said Mr Dale.

Updated: July 26, 2019 12:59 PM

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