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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Qatar weather

Winter rain hit Qatar today. I should have seen the signs – the swimming pool Rain, puddles and an overcast sky: not a common sight in Qatarwas distinctly chilly over the weekend, we turned off the air conditioning in the office the other day, opening the window in its place, and the usually unspoilt blue of the sky has been slightly obscured by fluffy white cloud.

Yet when it rained today we were unprepared. My friend had left his sun roof open to the unexpected drench of rain, and I was out in a t-shirt. In our defence, it’s the first time we’ve seen a drop of rain since April. Its early too – I haven’t heard anything about the imams praying for rain. Almost certainly, the rain today will make the newspaper tomorrow.

Not to worry though, the forecast for tomorrow is for fine warm weather, and by the time this is posted it should have returned to its normal sunny self. This is, after all, a country which sees less than ten centimetres of rain a year on average*. Not that we mind the rain or the cooler weather. Not after experiencing a Doha summer, when temperatures can get up to 50 degrees centigrade, a temperature not even air-conditioning can shield you against.

I remember on a (relatively) cool late August evening attempting to walk alThe reflection of a moving car is visible in this carpark puddleong the Corniche with my family, hoping for a sea breeze to make the heat bearable. After 10 minutes we gave up and lurched back to the car, rather worried about my young son who was very red in the face.

In mid-September a friend and I tried fishing, arriving at the beach at about half past four in the morning. By seven thirty we were soaked in sweat, again retreating to the safety of the car and gulping down water.

But at some point between then and now the weather becomes perfect, like a hot English summer – except that you are so acclimatised to the heat that what would be hot in England is very pleasant here. And, of course, there are the continual blue skies. “It’s a lovely day,” I used to say to my colleagues when I first arrived, only to feel silly because of course every day was a lovely day – hot, maybe, but with beautiful blue skies that you might see a few days a year in the U.K.

Soon the weather will become a little bit too chilly for my liking and I might even get out the little heaters I bought last year. It’ll never even approach an English winter, though, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here and I’m staying here.

When to visit: October to June (although that might be pushing a bit)
Avoid: July
Avoid at all costs: August and September

*Marhaba (Issue no.35) reports an average annual rainfall of 70mm per year)

Things were back to normal in the morning
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