‘Brrrrrr, it’s cold today.’ ‘No, it’s not. It’s 20˚C.’ This is a conversation I have all too often in Dubai (that’s me in the second part). Maybe it’s because I’m not long off the plane (eight months and counting in this beautiful city), but I’m not yet used to, nor bored of, year-round sun. I love it.
In case you missed its arrival, it’s now December. In the UK, where I resided for all my 31 years (except for two-thirds of one of them), people are now starting their annual month-long ritual of skating to work on paths encased in packed ice (not easy when every inch of your face apart from your eyes is wrapped up in wool), or de-icing cars each morning with a jug of lukewarm water (tip: don’t use boiling water – it freezes faster). It’s the same in northern Europe, Canada and parts of the US.
Think about it: 20˚C is not cold. Not by any standard. Yet Dubai expats from colder climes moan about having to pull on a thin cardigan to go outside first thing in the morning or enjoy al-fresco dining late in the evening. And I have to admit, the people that complain are usually the Brits. We’re obsessed with the changeable nature of our weather. You can’t take your iPod earphones out for two seconds in a doctor’s waiting room back home without a stranger piping up, ‘Weather’s changed, hasn’t it?’.
In the UK, obsession is legitimate. Sunshine is rare and exciting. Rain is constant. And a scattering of snow makes our fair old country grind to a halt every winter without fail, as though it’s the first time we’ve ever seen cold white stuff fall from the sky. But here in Dubai, where daytime temperatures range from really, really, really hot to quite hot, and back to scorching again, we really need to get a grip.
If we want to complain this winter, let’s aim our discontent at something rational. Every day, I pass a 10-metre Christmas tree in the reception area at Time Out Towers, yet I cannot for the life of me feel ‘Christmassy’ (definitely a word). I’m not complaining. I’m fully aware we live in a wonderful Muslim country and I am truly respectful of this. But I love Christmas more than a thousand five-year-olds, and Christmas in the desert, with sand rather than snow, just isn’t Christmas to me. Yes, I am a hypocrite. I want heat, but I also want snow. You can take the boy out of Britain, but you’ll never take the British obsession with weather out of the boy.