Surviving the Dubai summer heat as an Aussie Expat

dubai summer heat

Dubai Summer heat– “what’s it really like?” is a question I get a lot.  The Dubai summer heat is infamous around the world. But is it so hot?  And how is it possible to survive the Dubai summer heat?  Aussie expat in Dubai, Emma Bennet, shares her thoughts.

This article is written by Emma Bennett.  Emma Bennett loves a good story. Fortunately, she has plenty of inspiration living life as an Aussie expat in Dubai and traveling the world with two young kids. She loves to tell the real stories about what can happen when you are completely out of your comfort zone and those funny, quirky moments that form long lasting memories.

Surviving Dubai summer heat

Dubai Summer heat– “what’s it really like?” is a question I get a lot.

The Dubai heat is infamous around the world. Search for the words Dubai and heat and you will have hundreds of articles to view about how hot Dubai gets.

When we told our family and friends we were moving here, they all had the same response – “but it’s so hot?”

And yes Dubai is hot. Scorching temperatures of between 45°C and 49°C is not uncommon for weeks at a time during the middle of summer. It can feel relentless. There are some days where I worry that I might spontaneously combust or melt if I step outside!  And, by the way, while your calendar may say that summer is from June to August, you should expect things to start warming up late April and continue into September.

But let me share an inside tip with you – it’s really not that bad! We survived our first full summer last year and we didn’t get fried nor did we go crazy (I think).

But how is it possible to live in temperatures like that? Let me share some of the insider secrets to surviving the Dubai summer heat.

Everything is built for Dubai summer heat

The thing about Dubai that most people don’t realise is that it’s designed with the climate in mind. There is essentially nothing you can do here outside that you can’t do inside.

Even snow skiing is on offer if you have the cash.

An easy way to think about it is to equate the Dubai summer heat to the Scandinavia winter cold. Ask people who live there and they will tell you that yes, it’s cold. But because everything is set up for cold you don’t really notice it.

Let me give you some examples of how well Dubai is set up to enable locals to survive the Dubai summer heat:
dubai summer heat

  1. Many pools are temperature controlled
  2. Walkways to and from metro stations and carparks are air-conditioned
  3. Bus stops (along the main roads) are generally air-conditioned
  4. Taxis have a set minimum fee so you don’t have to feel bad taking a taxi 200m down the road when you literally can’t walk that far or you will self-combust
  5. There are indoor amusement parks, playgrounds, pools, ski fields, gardens and parks
  6. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave your car and aircon running in the carpark while you pick kids up from school or pop into a shop.

Don’t bother with the beach

When we first moved here, we lived down the road from a really nice beach park. We never really saw people swimming during summer though which we found a bit baffling. In Australia, everyone spends as much time at the beach during summer as they can.

One evening after work we thought we’d have a nice little family evening at the beach.

It was late summer/early autumn and the daytime temperature was 40°C. By the time we left for the beach, the temperature had dropped to about 38°C.

We got to the beach and the first thing we noticed was, of the few people there, no-one was in the water.

We just assumed people were still working or too shy to swim in public. So dripping with sweat and breathing heavily, we all made the trek from the car to the water edge.

The first footstep into the water explained immediately why the water was empty.

It was hotter in the water than it was outside!

I kid you not. We immersed ourselves in the water and actually felt our body temperatures rising.

Every now and then I would stand up and catch a tiny waft of breeze on my skin and it would feel slightly cool. That was the only way to get any kind of relief.

We lasted about 5 minutes in the water before we bailed and ran back to the air conditioned car and returned to our air conditioned apartment and temperature controlled pool.

Lesson learnt!

Sunstroke sneaks up on you

Staying hydrated is the key to surviving summer here.

If you are from Southeast Asia or Europe, summer usually means hot sticky air that you can cut with a knife and lots of sweating.

Here, the air is very dry. Desert heat is nothing like heat in other countries.

That means it can sneak up on you. You walk outside and think “well, this isn’t too bad” as you don’t get that immediate atmospheric change that you do in other places. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes though and it hits you very quickly.

This means it’s critical to stay out of the direct sun and drink lots of water.

We learnt a big lesson on this one.

We spent the day at one of the fabulous beach clubs here when we just needed to get outside. The beach clubs are fully set up for heat with temperature controlled pools, air conditioned bathrooms and beach cabanas, free icy poles and free water.

We were having a great day playing in the pool and retreating indoors to the aircon whenever things got a bit much.

We got home in the early evening and all of a sudden, it hit – heatstroke!

The kids and I had vomiting and diarrhea and we were all extremely lethargic and thirsty.

Even though we had been in water and shade all day, we simply hadn’t drunk enough and our bodies couldn’t cope.

Everywhere we go now in summer, we have bottles of water with us at all times. And even when you don’t feel thirsty, you have to make sure you constantly sip the water. The alternatives are horrendous.

Activities to do during the Dubai summer heat

As I mentioned, most things you can do outside, you can also do inside during the Dubai summer heat.

Here’s a summary of a few of the most popular ways to stay active inside:

  • Ice Skating – there are numerous options within Dubai for getting on the ice including the Dubai mall ice-rink and there’s one out on the Corniche at Deira as well
  • Skiing – Mall of the Emirates (MOE) has an indoor ski field where you can carve up the powder, or hang out on the toboggan slopes with the kids
  • Amusement centres – every mall we’ve been to in Dubai has some kind of amusement centre. The big malls like Dubai Mall, MOE and City Centre Mirdiff have places like Magic Planet and Sega World where smaller malls will have either a kids playground area or an arcade space
  • Indoor sky-diving – iFly Dubai at City Centre Mirdiff has the facility for you to try skydiving or base jumping without leaving the mall
  • Bouncing – there are a couple of big indoor trampolining parks in Dubai. This is a great way to wear the kids out without leaving the aircon
  • Indoor theme park – Dubai IMG Worlds of Adventure is the world’s largest indoor theme park with everything from dinosaurs to all of the Marvel characters. A great way to beat the heat and still have an awesome day out
  • Dubai butterfly garden – there’s a little oasis buried in Barsha where you can go and relax with swarms of beautiful butterflies. This is a tranquil haven in the middle of the desert complete with waterfalls, bird calls and of course, air conditioned comfort.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of options to enjoy a fun day out without having to step outside.

Better than you think

So there you have it. Dubai really does have a lot to offer during the summer months to ensure survival of all residents, both mentally and physically.

And whilst the summer can be long, I would take a long summer over a long winter any day. Remembering too that when it all gets too much and you need to just be looked after, there are endless opportunities for a Dubai staycation at any of the amazing 5 star resorts. Remember the rates are usually significantly cheaper for residents during the summer for an added bonus!

We’re about to enter our second summer here and at this stage, we’re comfortably content. We love to hear advice from other expat families or those with experience in hot climates as well so please do leave a comment with any tips.

What are your experiences living in Dubai?  Share your experience for other expats in the comments section below.

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Australian Expat Investor Contributor

These articles have been written by an Australian Expat Investor Contributor. Please see their details in the relevant post. The views expressed in the article are his or her own and may not reflect the views of The Australian Expat Investor. If you are interested in contributing an article or story to The Australian Expat Investor please visit our contact page.

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