Being English I have a not so unique ability to comment on the weather an awful lot. When I was still living in Surrey I used to awake from slumber each morning, draw back the curtains and assess what the weather was up to. More often than not I would be confronted with grey skies and a pathetic drizzle that would always play havoc with my hair. But every now and again there was a surprise, I would pull the curtains open and be confronted with a sunny, clear day. What a refreshing change it was.
You can’t beat a sunny day in south west London. You can go for a walk by the Thames, head over to Richmond Park or sit out outside and have a beer. Of course the fact that sunny, warm day’s aren’t that common anymore – because people drive cars and want electricity – means that when they come around they are a welcome relief from the norm. Yes, whenever a hot day comes around people wish they weren’t at work but everything carries on as normal. That is the way of the world, rain, wind or shine, we carry on. Apart from snow, we’re screwed when it snows.
As you would expect things aren’t quite the same in the UAE, typically. For about 360 days a year the sun shines, relentlessly, and we all walk around letting each other know just how good that is. But is it? I beg to differ.
The more or less constant guarantee of sunshine in the UAE makes people very complacent; as such the country has not been designed to deal with the 5 days a year when it rains. Let’s start with the roads; Dubai struggles more than Abu Dhabi because Dubai is “older”. When it was built the small detail that is proper drainage was overlooked. It was scientifically proven in 1952 that if you do not have adequate drainage when it rains then the rain will pool up and cause something called a “flood”.
To add to that, the roads are built flat without a crown so the water doesn’t run to the sides but instead pools up everywhere else. The roads here are made with a very smooth tarmac, which in the dry offers you so much grip. The downside is that when the rain falls it becomes very slippery. This makes driving very tricky indeed.
That leads us on to the next thing; a lot of people living in UAE just do not have a clue how to drive in the rain. You can’t just give it the beans because you will lose control and crash. You and I know this so we all slow it down and adopt a far more conservative approach. But we come from a part of the world that knows the perils of a wet road. Johnny Land Cruiser and Jimmy Hilux with his bald tyres are out of their depth at the best of times and scary thing is they don’t even realise.
Then we have buildings. As well as all having doors and windows, all buildings in the UAE also share a feature that means that they must leak whenever the precipitation commences. It doesn’t matter if you are in a labourer’s camp or walking around Dubai Mall, if it’s raining outside you will see the effects inside.
We also know that electrics over here aren’t up to the standards that you would expect to find in the Space Shuttle or Microsoft HQ. They leave a lot to be desired and it is very common to see bare wires buzzing and sparking. In the sun, no problem, let it fizz and crackle, but one drop of rain and its blackout city.
Contractors openly come out and say that the hole in your roof doesn’t matter because “it only rains once or twice a year” and they’re half right. It may only indeed rain once or twice a year but when it does, it comes down hard.
The most staggering factor of it all is that when “the rains” – plural – come everyone takes a day off. There are enough public holidays already but no, whenever it starts spitting the children are taken to “Fun City” instead of school, adults go to “Fun City” instead of going to work and morons take cars they don’t know how to handle out onto the roads and try to kill themselves.
After having lived here for 5 years I’ll be honest when I say I miss the rain. When I open the curtains and see grey skies I find it a welcome relief from the usual blitzkrieg but God have mercy, it’s dangerous out there and the whole country comes to a stand still.
Going back to my earlier question, is it a good thing that it is always sunny? Well no, if it rained more then the dangers and laziness would eventually get cancelled out, people would eventually learn to adapt. Having constant sunshine is like having too much of a good thing, like chocolate. Its great all the time until you want to go for a run and you realise that you can’t because you’re about to have a heart attack and you’re gym shorts haven’t fitted you for 12 years.
What is the solution to surviving the rain then? Stay indoors and eat chocolate.
Sadly, former Rotana Moodz DJ Lee James passed away last night after a short battle with illness. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Al Ain will never be the same without you. Marty