When I lived in Hong Kong, it was routine to wake up and not be able to see the harbour. The high-rise buildings were hidden amongst clouds of fog and air pollution. But last weekend was the first time I have experienced visibility being obscured by a sandstorm.
The weather didn’t look too ominous in the morning. It was Saturday, my day off in Dubai, everyone else’s Sunday, the official days of the weekend being Friday and Saturday. I set off to explore Dubai’s main green oasis, Safa Park, excited to see some green and also keen browse the stalls at the Dubai Flea Market again.
The park didn’t disappoint, with lovely large fields of grass, trees and water fountains, definitely a respite from highways, buildings and sandy patches that make up the rest of the city. The flea market was also good, bigger than the one I had been to before and it satisfied my bargain-shopping urges.
The real discovery of the day was the library-cum-arty café The Archive. Set in a contemporary white building, with glass windows and a terrace overlooking the park, the café is a delightful place to spend some time, browsing through the great collection of art and design books from the Middle East and North Africa. I noted that they run weekly Arabic lessons on a Thursday night…I just might be tempted!
I left the park just after midday as the air started becoming hazy. By the time I reached home it was hot, windy and difficult to see. It was apparent that I was indeed in a sandstorm. I cancelled my afternoon plans and bunkered up at home only emerging around 7pm to get some supplies from the supermarket. I was almost swept away by the wind and felt like I was in a big oven. Surprisingly the sensation wasn’t actually that unpleasant as fortunately the sand is very fine and not abrasive. I was mainly worried about having to cross the road as Dubai drivers are resentful of slowing down for pedestrians at the best of times.
(View from our apartment at about 3pm on Sunday. Visibility was reported to have been only 500 meters during the peak of the storm)
I went to bed early and the next morning saw big puddles of water as I walked to the studio. It seems the sandstorm had joined forces with a thunderstorm during the night! I was quite disappointed to have missed that. It might be quite a while before I have the chance to see rain again…although there is that trip to London planned…!
(The same view looking sparkly and shiny after the rain)