‘We can’t work’: Why summer in the Gulf feels hotter than usual

Summer heat in the Gulf has reached record levels, leaving residents and workers struggling to cope with the searing temperatures. We investigate the causes of increased heat and its impact on workplace productivity. Rising global temperatures contribute to increasingly frequent and intense heat waves, exacerbated by climate change.

The rapid urbanization and expansion of cities in the Gulf region add to the heat by forming urban heat islands. Plus, the region’s high humidity adds to the pain, making the summer heat feel even more sweltering. Understanding these characteristics is critical to addressing the problems of hotter-than-usual Gulf summers and finding solutions to improve working conditions.

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Why the Gulf Summer Feels Even Hotter Than Usual

This Gulf summer feels even hotter than usualCredit: AP

As most of the world experiences record temperatures, remember Issam Genedi, who washes cars in one of the world’s hottest places, the Gulf.

The Egyptian migrant says the oven-like climate of the United Arab Emirates feels much hotter this year, taking a break from work in an open-air parking lot in Dubai.

“This summer has been a bit more difficult than other years,” adds Genedi, who polishes cars for about 25 dirhams ($6.80) a time in temperatures that typically top 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

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This Gulf summer feels even hotter than usualCredit: AP

“We just can’t work between noon and 3pm or 3:30pm” The oil-rich United Arab Emirates, which will host this year’s COP28 United Nations climate meetings, where the world will try to strengthen its response to warming globally, it is no stranger to oppressive summers.

Those who can camp in cooler places or stay cooped up in air-conditioned homes, offices, and shopping malls during the sweltering summer months. Apart from the cheaply hired foreign employees, the streets are almost desolate.

Many blue-collar employees must take a break during the hottest part of the day. It’s the same story throughout the energy-rich desert region.

This Gulf summer feels even hotter than usualCredit: AP

July temperatures in Bahrain, an island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia, are on track to break the average monthly high temperature record of 42.1C (107.8F) set in 2017. Bahrain had an average monthly temperature of 36.9C (98.42F) in July 2017 and 2020.

At 60 degrees Celsius, you get the “real feel”

This summer seems to be abnormally hot, according to Genedi. In addition to last week being the hottest ever recorded globally, a wave of moisture has been choking the Gulf.

Ahmed Habib of the United Arab Emirates National Meteorology Center said: “People are wondering if the temperatures are even higher” than usual.

“An increase in relative humidity… combined with already high temperatures makes the temperature appear hotter than it is,” he explained, adding that “real” temperatures in some regions have ranged between 55 and 60 degrees Celsius ( 131 -140 degrees Fahrenheit).

This Gulf summer feels even hotter than usualCredit: AP

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The extreme heat and high humidity in the Gulf are deadly as the human body struggles to cool itself by evaporating sweat from the skin in such conditions. A thermometer wrapped in a damp cloth measures the combination to calculate the “wet bulb temperature”, the lowest possible by evaporative cooling.

The Gulf is one of the only areas where wet-bulb temperatures have consistently exceeded 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), the human survival threshold beyond which heat stress can be fatal within hours, regardless of age, health or physical condition. As a result, researchers worry that accelerating climate change will make parts of the Gulf region uninhabitable by the end of the century.

Issa Ramadan, a Kuwaiti meteorologist, said that “the increase in temperature over the past year has been significant.”

“It is expected that from the middle of the month until August 20 there will be a noticeable increase in temperatures, which can reach and even exceed 50C (122F) in the shade,” he told AFP.

According to official estimates, humidity in Bahrain could reach 90% by the end of the week, with maximum temperatures ranging between 42 and 44 °C (108 and 111 °F).

Heat island effect and increased urbanization

Increasing urbanization and expansion of cities in the Gulf region have aggravated the heat. Tall buildings, concrete structures, and large expanses of asphalt absorb and retain heat, creating urban heat islands. This trend raises local temperatures, making cities hotter than the surrounding countryside. High temperatures combined with urbanization present a significant problem for outdoor workers and affect overall productivity.

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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