Qatar is not known for its dramatic seasons, and without many landforms to speak of besides a vast plain of beige sand and stone, there are few opportunities for climate, let alone microclimates. But I have noticed the slow curve of the temperatures and humidity downwards since June. The past several days have been extremely windy, but we have been fortunate here not to get any real beige-out sandstorms or major lightning storms. People often comment about how the Southeastern US was nigh on unbearable to live in until the invention of air conditioning. That saying is quaint when compared to the environment in Qatar. I have spent time in the Sun Valley of Arizona, and even the hottest temperatures there, mitigated by a dryness rarely encountered in Qatar, have nothing on this place.
Despite all of that, acclimating to the outdoor temperatures here means that this gradual decline in heat makes 90°F feel like a cold front, and when it dips into the upper seventies at night on occasion now, I feel almost obligated to wear pants. But even with the cooling trend, I cannot imagine that this place could offer a home for 2.3 million people without a truly staggering amount of high volume air conditioning (HVAC) capacity. I can only wonder what the Qataris are planning to do to make the World Cup stadiums tolerable during their hosting bid, because they are enormous buildings but still, ultimately, exposed to the elements.
In any case, the winds seem to be bringing with them some relief from the worst of the searing sun and gritty haze that hangs in humid horror over everything inland of the Corniche for much of the year. I can honestly say, even with the broiling, sweat-inducing climate here, I would come back and visit given the opportunity to return, if only for the fascinating sights of so many different cultures and mores existing in relative peace and comfort amidst high luxury construction and surprisingly quality standards of living. All is not bread and roses or caviar and cake, and the delights of the malls and shocking green parks come at the expense of hundreds of thousands of non-citizen residents’ labor and toil. But in many cases those same people are, even at the worst, enjoying better quality of life than they would in their home countries in South and Southeast Asia. I do not claim to address the downsides of the sociopolitical and economic system here in this post, but I am surprised to find that Qatar, should the embargo end peacefully and without their losing sovereignty, is more poised to function as a nation-state when their hydrocarbon reserves run out than many of their neighbors in the region. You do not have to buy their propaganda or believe a bigoted word of Al Jazeera Arabic to see that there is still a lot of potential here, even in the face of environmental odds that make this almost a sterile alien planet whose only visible asset is a mostly breathable atmosphere.