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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summer Heat in Qatar

"It's not so hot today," my wife said to me. "It's only 44."

The summer heat has hit Qatar with a bang. We have turned off the hot water, and are using the water stored in the tank for refreshing showers - the water from the roof is sizzling hot.

At least Qatar is set up for the heat. It wasn't always so. One elderly Qatar gentlemen told me of a time when the students would shift their chairs throughout the day to stay in the shade. Then in the nights, his family would move their beds to the roof of their house to make the most of the cooler night air. Except in the height of summer even the nights are stiflingly hot.

Now rooftop sleeping, for most at least, have been replaced by air-conditioning. Apart from a few seconds in the heat, many people spend their lives going from airconditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned mall. It's got to the stage where some locals feel the heat more than the expats - especially for women, many of whom often wear several layers of clothing even at this time of year.

Paradoxically, the heat is worse in Doha than in the desert, as the very ACs that keep people cool blast hot air out into the city. Those of who can remain inside are the lucky ones. Even now labourers are working in almost unbearable conditions, and face several months of doing so. The better companies run workshops on how to cope with the heat, but nothing can make the day cooler!

As heat stroke is potentially life threatening - a Texas convict recently died after a punishment session in an outdoor holding cell - it is worth taking steps to prevent it. Wearing a hat and loose clothes is a no brainer, but also make sure to drink plenty of fluids, and to increase your intake of sodium (salt). Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake, and if you do get dehydrated try taking some rehydration fluids (available from any chemist).

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