Now don’t worry, this isn’t going to be the smug ramblings of an Englishman about what a proper torrential downpour really is (even I find the words, ‘you call this real rain? I’m from America/the UK/Ireland, I can show you real rain,’ depressing). But I think Dubai should embrace a good storm for what it is: a chance to spend a weekend doing nothing.
Living in a country with many expats like the UAE means that there’s always a reason to go out. Friendships are transient here. People leave all the time; there’s a feeling that you should spend every spare minute of your weekend with mates, just in case they have to depart the country in the near future. Dubai’s stunning coastline and the sheer amount of things you can do here, from parks with Ferris Wheels to giant aquariums, means I often feel guilty if I stay at home at the weekend.
Rain changes all that. I spent almost all last weekend at home with my family. No long drives along Sheikh Zayed Road to see friends, no spending money I don’t have at a brunch, eating food that will add to my Dubai stone. Instead, I watched DVD boxsets with my wife, played Xbox and read books to my daughter. I was woken up at 4am by the storm on Friday and sat watching the rain lash the windows outside and the lightning crackle across the skyline.
It seems a lot of Dubai had the same idea as me. A Christmas festival was postponed until late-January (not sure how that one will work), as was the Beat Diabetes Walkathon and Coronation Street star Craig Charles’ DJ set. Even a Fitness First event bit the bullet.
Twitter was full of photos of flooded streets. YouTube had a video of a leaking wall at the Dubai Airshow. Ibn Battuta mall was also taking water. From the comfort of my living room, Dubai looked like a scene from John Cusack’s apocalyptic movie 2012.
Curiosity got the better of me by Saturday afternoon and my family and I snuck out to The Dubai Mall.
It wasn’t even raining yet the place was positively heaving, although people’s quest for supplies seemed to involve running for the Versace and Gucci racks, not first aid kits and bottled water. I only lasted 30 minutes before doing a runner back to the comfort of my home.
So the next time it rains, don’t panic – and definitely don’t go outside. Instead, put your feet up, make yourself a cup of tea and watch ten episodes of According To Jim back-to-back. You won’t regret it. Well, not all of it, maybe just the According To Jim part...