Scorching heatwave in the Middle East


Boiling temperatures in the region are expected to stay at a high until next week

A Palestinian boy reacts as his friends splashes his with water on his head during summer activities organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza City on 3 August 2015 (AFP)
MEE staff's picture
Last update: 
Tuesday 4 August 2015 19:21 UTC

For the past week, temperatures across the Middle East region have soared to new heights- breaking records in some areas-as populations struggle to cope with the heatwave.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani expressed his amazement at the high temperatures, adding that the weather will continue to be scorching until next week.

The region of Bandar Mahshar in southwest Iran, close to the Iraqi border, recorded a temperature of 68 Celsius last Thursday.

“That was one of the most incredible temperature observations I have ever seen and it is one of the most extreme readings ever in the world,” said Sagliani in a statement.

The following day, Iran almost broke a world record as temperatures in Bandar Mahshar crept to a whopping 73 Celsius. The Dhahran area in Saudi Arabia holds the record for hottest temperatures ever being registered, which in 2003 reached a suffocating 81 Celsius.

In Baghdad, the government authorised a four-day public holiday after temperatures spiked to 50 C, while at the same time asking citizens to save power.

Hundreds of Iraqis protested on the streets against the power shortages that-amidst a flailing infrastructure- occur more frequently in the heatwave. The protesters blamed government corruption for failing to invest in and rebuild electricity and power grids.

Temperatures in Iraq’s southern city of Basra are estimated to remain around 51 C for the rest of the week, continuing on through to the weekend.

In Jordan, a massive sandstorm on Sunday swept across the capital Amman, disrupting flights and reducing visibility to a mere 100 metres, as temperatures exceeded 40 C. Other parts of the country witnessed 43 C. A video from the Za’atari refugee camp, located 80 kilometres north of Amman and home to 130,000 Syrians, went viral as it showed a raw egg cooked almost instantaneously in a pan placed on the ground.

Lebanon’s twitter users circulated the hashtag in Arabic “Dear Heatwave” as they tweeted humorous pictures about the effects of the sweltering heat in a country that also experiences frequent power outages and electricity rationing. The heatwave has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of chickens in southeast Lebanon.

In the West Bank, water trucks patrolled the main streets in different cities spraying water at people. One farmer in Nablus lost 870 of his chickens to the heat as temperatures reached 42 C.

Palestinians in Gaza suffering from the heat have little respite from the humidity and baking temperatures. While some have taken to the beaches to escape the heat, others cannot evade it in light of poor power rationing for a few hours. 18,000 homes were destroyed during last summer’s war on the coastal strip, and not one house has been rebuilt so far. Temporary accommodations are comprised of metal caravans with zinc rooftops- a furnace in the making.

The spokesperson for the Egyptian Meteorological Authority (EMA) said that the heatwave will continue until the middle of August.

“The weather will remain hot in the north of Egypt and very hot in many parts of the country especially Upper Egypt,” Waheed Saudi told local media.

Temperatures are expected to reach 37 C in Cairo and 45 C in Upper Egypt, the EMA said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Mohamed Elsayed, an Egyptian songwriter from the port city of Alexandria, reminded visitors to the city on his Facebook to enjoy themselves but not to overdo it.

“Please don’t act like [Alexandria] is your own living room…don’t get too comfortable. I am with you that the weather is hot but I am a son of this area and have more rights to it than you do yet I don’t walk around its streets in my underwear,” he wrote.