For three weeks Dubai has put on its best welcome for two sun-starved Brits that blossomed in the warm glow of UAE’s ‘winter’ temperatures. Since our arrival the need to even wonder about weather conditions has seemed slightly ridiculous because every day has brought uninterrupted sunshine and clear blue skies. We started to get confident. Big mistake.
Every so often Dubai stamps her foot and reminds its citizens that its futuristic cityscape and rampant consumerism are a veneer. Underneath the surface glamour and glitz Dubai has a restless, desert heart. Most of the time the fine, sandy dust in the air is kept in check by the armies of people that keep the marbled mall floors and all the other public areas pristine. Now we have our own apartment I am starting to appreciate the amount of sweeping, polishing and preening it takes to keep signs of the desert at bay from every available surface in this city. It’s quite amazing how spotless and tidy it all is but every so often the forces of nature get the upper hand.
In the last two days the notorious desert winds blew in with a vengeance. We vainly wiped the glass topped table on the balcony a couple of time in as many hours before giving up as a fog of dust reduced the city’s skyscraper skyline to a ghostly line up.
The majestic Burj Khalifa, so strident a presence the day before, was a shadow of its former self, its outline only just visible. Anyone with an expensive ticket to go to the top in the last two days must have been cursing their bad luck that the panoramic view would be kept under wraps.
On foot we take a short cut through the underground car park and note the layer of sand over the Rolls Royces, Ferrarris and Nissans. The few people out in the street are scurrying along, with scarves or masks held over their faces. It feels like a deadly disease has just broken out. My skin feels gritty and I have a tickly sensation in my throat. Contact lense wearers and anyone with a respiratory problem must have to take cover indoors until conditions improve
Dubai has its own solution of course which works in all weather conditions. If it’s too hot, too windy or too dusty, don’t worry – go shopping.