Middle East swelters in early heatwave

Middle East swelters in early heatwave
Temperatures have soared to more than 40C across the region, causing power cuts and prompting warnings of an unusually hot summer.
2 min read
03 June, 2015
A young Egyptian splashes water on his face [al-Araby]
Temperatures have soared across the Middle East over the past week with high winds and sandstorms also keeping people at home and away from the blistering heat. 

Cairo experienced a peak temperature of 44C at midday last Wednesday, a figure rarely seen this early in the year.

Hussein Ali, a 50-year-old resident of Cairo told al-Ahram: "Now I avoid taking outdoor public transport such as buses or taxis, I prefer to take the metro because it's air-conditioned. I also carry a water bottle and sunglasses."

In Alexandria, beach parasol renters and juice sellers have reported record sales from early holidaymakers.

Juice seller Gaber Mahmoud told al-Araby al-Jadeed: "I've had to double the amount of juice I make before, and I've been doing this for 22-years."

     Temperatures in the shade during Ramadan could hit 50C in many parts of Saudi Arabia.
Suprisingly, record highs in Egypt were not accompanied by large-scale power cuts as the sweltering population turned on their air-conditioners. Amr Adib, a talkshow host, thanked the minister of electricity and called on Egyptians to save electricity.

In the Gaza Strip, where temperatures have exceeded 40C, electricity shortages have meant little air conditioning is available. Gazans still homeless from the Israeli war last year have tried to get relief from the heat by spraying water on the tents in which they live.

Power cuts have brought cities to virtual standstills in Iraq, where temperatures have also exceeded 40C for several days. 

In Yemen, ice sellers have experienced record sales because of the summer heat and power cuts caused by the Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Houthis. "I used to sell clothes but a bomb hit my small shop so now I am selling ice to provide for my family," Mohammad al-Hashimi, a resident of Taiz, told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Algerians have flocked to the beaches as temperatures rise above 40C. Families and children from interior provinces not along the coast have packed into buses and headed to the seaside for some relief from the heat.

Temperatures were also abnormally high in the arid Gulf state of Qatar. Dina, a 24-year-old long term Doha resident, said: "This is one of the worse summers we've had in years. You can't even walk outside for five minutes, and it's just starting."

Climatologist Abd al-Rahman al-Ghamdi told the Saudi Gazette that temperatures in the shade could reach 50C during the holy month of Ramadan, which is due to start mid-June.

The heatwave gripping the Middle East has hit India even harder. Officials announced on Tuesday that 2,330 people have already died from the effects and meteorologists saying monsoon rains could still be days away.