It’s indisputable, the temperatures in Doha are a sun worshippers dream. Living in a world where outdoor swimming pools and air conditioning are the norm it’s easy to fall into believing, (especially when you come from damp ole Eire) that we here in Doha can have no weather problems, apart from intense heat for 5 months of the year, May – September, April and October, teeter just below 40˚c and November to March have idyllic temperatures ranging somewhere between 20˚c and 35˚c.
Now for an Irish mammy, all this only means two things, a fine line of washing out every day and a year round suntan. Things couldn’t be better, what could possibly go wrong with a climate like that, I hear you ask, but the reality is that living in a hot desert climate in many ways can be as turbulent as a climate facing the harsh Atlantic forces.
Granted, here in Doha, we’re never knee deep in flood water, or frozen with the cold waiting for the oil man to deliver, or frozen with the cold waiting for the plumber to come to fix the rads because they’re air locked because you let the oil run out, or frozen with the cold because it’s just so bloody cold or wet to the skin running from the door or the shop to the car, or the car to the house. But neither do we experience those gorgeous early summer days in May which you know you should be wary of but can’t help stripping off in the back garden. Ice-cream sales soar and the mood across the country is elevated, ‘ah sur we’d never have to go to Spain if we had weather like this’, they say. Or the cosy wintery rainy days indoors (when you have central heating) watching movies.
While the climate is Qatar is consistently warm, it is not without its foibles and actually if you replace water with sand and cold with heat, we have the exact same cycles as Ireland.
People get depressed with the intense heat in Doha. As temperatures rise this time of year, you can feel that all outdoor activities will soon be banned completely as the heat rises above 40, 45 and over 50, resulting in an indoor life for the summer period.
But usually this time of year is glorious, blue skies and temperature of c. 35˚c each day, except for last Thursday morning. I woke at the usual time of 5.30a.m. for work but I had that gritty feeling in my teeth and everything looked greyed out. Red wine – hardly on a school night.
Downstairs, the picture wasn’t much brighter, a haze had ascended over everything, these early mornings were killing me. However when I had fully woken up, I realised, it wasn’t tiredness that was creating a fug, there had been a sandstorm. Everything was hidden under a thick blanket of sand, making it almost impossible to draw ones breath or identify a single object.
There is one thing to note about houses in Doha, They are not sealed. 360 days of the year they don’t need to be, there’s no wind and no rain. But from time to time there are sandstorms and when they occur, every single surface of your home will be covered in a thick layer of desert sand. I fumbled through the beige to find the kettle, tea would make things clearer surely and I wondered about driving conditions for the school run and work.
Luckily it was announced that there be a compulsory shut down of all public and private schools due to dangerous weather conditions so yippee we were off for the day! The last day of term too so holidays were beginning early!
But the sting in the tail, we couldn’t leave the house. The wind and sand would slice the face clean off you. For young kids the risk of getting sand in their eyes is too high but for older kids and opportunity to dodge the post sandstorm clean-up, too attractive. So there was nothing to do, except everyone grab and basin and cloth and get cleaning, AC on, doors shut, movies in the afternoon and sand twirling outside, Doha’s equivalent to a rainy day indoor.