It’s cold in Europe at the moment. I haven’t visited recently, but we have a TV in the office and the news heaves with images of continental snow drifts, or that grey weather map with the angry arrows. I sit at my desk, fascinated by a shivering journalist reporting on the weather beside a slush-covered motorway.
Actually, my interest isn’t in the weather (snow? In Europe? In the middle of winter? What are the chances?), but in what the poor lady is wearing: a jacket, a jumper, a scarf and, although I can’t see them in the medium-wide shot, I’m guessing a pair of very warm boots. Perfect for a -3°C motorway story. Yet, curiously, as I glance around the office, it seems it’s perfect for Dubai too. I’m surrounded by such an array of emergency-weather clothing – sweaters, cardigans, pashminas – that it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the very same cold snap that eradicated the dinosaurs has descended here on the Middle East.
Consumed with sudden panic (my only sweater is in a crumpled mess at the back of my wardrobe – can I get home and iron it before freezing to death?), I dash outside, fully expecting to find the inhabitants of the city frozen solid, staring at the sky, horror written across their faces. Oh why didn’t I tell my mother I loved her last time we spoke? Too late… Goodbye, cruel world…
Hang on, what’s this? The sun still shines? It’s still warm? A man in shorts and flip-flops strolls past. ‘Excuse me, do you know the temperature?’ I politely enquire. ‘It’s 2.30pm,’ he answers, before his brain registers
that he hasn’t been asked the stock stranger-to-stranger question. ‘Oh, it’s about 29°C, I think.’ I walk back inside, utterly confounded. It’s 29°C and we’re working in what was, but six years ago, the desert. And yet my co-workers are clearly freezing. One is talking about buying a thicker scarf. The other – I kid you not – laments the loss of her hot water bottle. And it’s not just because of the cold A/C either – a night outside on Friday confirms my worst suspicions: the whole of expat Dubai has gone warm-sweater bonkers.
Well, not me. I didn’t move all the way to the UAE to buy a woolly jumper. In much the same way my Brit counterparts back home insist on wearing sunglasses in summer, even if it’s raining, I’m sitting the winter out in complete denial, sporting T-shirts and shorts. Being cold is just a mindset, anyway. Toughen up people!
Mind you, a hot water bottle would be nice right now. My toes are really rather cold…