After the Sandstorm

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Traces of Sandstorm

I stumbled upon this photo when I was looking through my archives tonight. This was taken after a sandstorm in Kuwait. This was the sight in the floor at work. Pretty normal during those days. Our office janitor would just shrug his shoulder and say : Alhamdullilah!

After  sandstorm which could last for days, I just stare at the traces all around me. The palm trees are soaked in dust, the windows, and the cars! Everything is drenched in dust, you can smell the pungent dust everywhere.If you notice the architecture in Kuwait, the buildings and facade are normally painted with shades close to this–Beige, rust, or somewhat close to 1011 (Brown beige) or 1015 ( Light Ivory).

The other day, I was cleaning our roller shutters and windows  and this thought made me smile. Here in Germany, almost all windows  are white, painted with 9010 ( Pure white) and you can see tons of cleaning products in the grocery shops. I was thinking that if it’s so dirty in Kuwait because of frequent sandstorms then why I only see Dettol  ?

Maybe they realize that its useless to wipe out & clean when in the following morning its gonna be dusty again.It makes sense.

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My views during Sandstorm days back in Kuwait

I wrote before how Sandstorm happens in Kuwait and my experience of it. It’s a typical scenario and not surprising anymore for me. I guess when you live with it for years and years,  it becomes normal to you. One of the things that will happen to you when you move to Kuwait is that you will never wear clean shoes anymore. The soles of your shoes will always be dusty. There is dust in the pavement, in the road, almost everywhere. Flip flops? Oh forget it, it won’t work while you walk in the streets because your feet will only look like ginger soak in muddy puddles. If you stay in your car and never get out or walk, then you’re good.

After the sandstorm, we clean, we dust off and move on. That’s how life goes on.

 

 

A Sandstorm experience in Kuwait

I often asked our office janitor why he doesn’t clean the windows. He replied : ” Its no use, it will be dusty again tomorrow “. It makes sense, right?

One word to describe Kuwait is Sandstorms (also known in Arabic as Shamal ).  Its plural because they come more often especially during Summer. After years of living here, I realized that its not only on the culture aspect an Expat get a shock, but also on the weather. If you are an Expat in Kuwait I am sure you know what I’m talking about.

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“A huge ‘wall of sand’ engulfs a city in Kuwait. This type of sandstorm is also known as ‘haboob’, derived from the Arabic word for ‘strong wind’ (Photo Credit: Rizalde Cayanan)”

The weather in Kuwait is arid, dust is part of the air you breathe when its dusty, literally. This is the practical & functional reasons why Arab men wear Ghutra & Dishdasha and women wore Niqab, Burqa, Hijab & Abayas. These type of clothing serves as protection from the harsh winds, dust & heat. The weather is totally extreme. When its hot, its really HOT. And when its dry winter, temperatures during this time could reach 0° C. The highest ever temperature recorded in Kuwait was 53.8 °C (128.8 °F) at Sulaibiya on July 31, 2012 which is the highest recorded temperature in Asia and also the third highest in the world. Try to imagine how people deal with this heat during Ramadan.

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Arab men wearing Ghutra as protection from strong winds & dust
My first experience of Sandstorm is still very vivid. I was at work when it happened. It was already a bit dusty and windy but around 7am the sky slowly turning into grey, into dark brown, into light orange, and suddenly it was really dark. I could hear the loud sound of the wind gushing through the windows & banging in the doors. I couldn’t see anything from the large window in my office.  I don’t have a smartphone yet during that time so I wasn’t able to capture it . It lasted for a few minutes and gradually it started to clear again. The dusty weather lasted for about 3-4 days. In some cases, it could last longer. Throughout the day, its dusty so everywhere in the building is dusty.

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Low Visibility during Sandstorm in Kuwait
I remember one time that while we are on the road, we cannot see further and the cars need to stop. I felt different emotions during those times. I felt sick, suffocated, surprised, amazed and yet excited to see all of these happening before my eyes. It was all new to me.

But then I get used to it eventually through the years. When I noticed from the window that its dusty, I brought an extra scarf and I have mask when going to work. I have learned to accept that it’s part of life here. When its dusty weather, you can’t enjoy outdoors. You cancel your plans. Nobody wants to walk outside while its raining dust. It could drain you physically as well as its not healthy to expose yourself into it. The funny thing is, its very common that its dusty on weekends, I don’t know why.

Here’s an interesting piece about Sandstorms in Kuwait.

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This photo was  taken in Kuwait during sandstorm &  was shortlisted from over 10,000 entries for the competition, Environmental Photographer of the Year award. For us who are used to this view, this view is quite normal  but to the majority of the world it looks exceptional and scary. In total , they have 111 photos that have been selected and they all tell a unique story. There’s a website just for this award you can check out [here].

Travel Tip :

Just in case you have plans to move to Kuwait, make sure you have a decent bandana, scarf or mask in your luggage. You will need it. When you arrive in Kuwait between April ~October, I tell you, it is HOT. You will already be sweating once you reached the carpark so make sure you dress light.

How about you, Do you have any weather shock story ?