By Isabel Tapp, Founder of Luxury Communications Council, GCC Chapter
Summer in the Middle East is not for the fainthearted. Before moving to Dubai, I was sceptical about those who complained about the heat.
Europeans have a knack for loving a heatwave, all running to any patch of green and soaking up as much sun as they can. After my first summer in the region 23 years ago, however, I discovered the heat in the Middle East is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. To give you an idea, last year the Iranian city of Abadan set the record for the hottest dry heat temperature when the mercury soared to 53°C on August 5.
That doesn’t mean you should completely disregard the Middle East as a summer destination, however. Whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, many people still visit the region from June through August as it’s quieter and generally more affordable. You can also take advantage of the lower occupancy rates in the iconic luxury resorts, where the pools are perfectly chilled for height-of-summer swimming.
It’s not only the temperature-controlled pools that make summer in the Middle East bearable. Built for the heat, you’ll find all facilities are air conditioned. Ingenious indoor activities are designed to cater to the climate, from record-breaking theme parks, cultural museums and luxury malls to in-villa cooking classes and indoor sports including tennis, cricket, football and even skiing.
With that in mind, here are some tips on not only surviving, but thriving in, the Middle Eastern summer.
While water is usually the go-to, beverages with a little bit of sugar, fat or protein can help you stay hydrated for longer. Plain H20 should still be a priority, but don’t feel like you can’t indulge in a freshly squeezed fruit juice, coconut water, or the delicious lemon mint juice blended with ice that is a signature of the region.
Park yourself by the pool
In the heat of the day, relax in the Middle East’s luxurious resort swimming pools, where all manner of amenities are designed to help you keep cool, from air-conditioned cabanas to dedicated staff delivering icy drinks and polishing your sunglasses. Many ultra-luxury resorts offer day passes during the quieter summer period, so you can take advantage of this season to visit an array of spectacular luxury properties.
Prioritise fresh ingredients
Well known for hosting intimate dinners and lavish parties with her host of private chefs as well as running cooking classes in her VIP clients’ homes, Dubai-based Private Chef Vanessa Bayma shifts culinary gears in the warmer months. “Over summer, our menus are brimming with zesty salads, sustainable seafoods, and cooling desserts that focus on fruits and citrus,” says Chef Bayma. “The Arabian way of grazing on mezze and other small dishes is also perfect for the warmer months, when you can make a meal out of beautiful dips, marinated vegetables, and light flatbreads.”
Pack light layers
Loose clothing in natural fibres such as linen, silk and cotton will be your best friend in the heat and humidity, but you’ll also want to account for the arctic blast of air conditioning each time you enter a restaurant or shopping mall. Keep a pashmina, scarf, or light jacket on hand so you can cover up as you need.
Don’t skimp on the moisturiser
Spending all day in air conditioning can take its toll on your skin. Invest in a good, hydrating moisturiser and apply liberally in the morning and evening. Pack an atomiser spray if you’re on the go to spritz your face anytime you feel dry.
Become a night owl
Spend any time in a major Middle Eastern city, and you’ll notice that it’s not just the restaurants and bars that are open at midnight. From coffee shops to cinemas and clothing boutiques, you’ll find that many places are open until the small hours, creating vibrant cultural hubs where people gather after the day’s heat has started to dissipate.
With an open mind and some forward planning, you can embrace the unmistakable atmosphere of a Middle Eastern summer.