There's no doubt about it. Being outside these days is unpleasant. And in this urban desert, the accessory you simply cannot live without during the summer is a pair of sunglasses. The high humidity means that our sunglasses will fog up the moment we step outside, but at least we're not squinting. However, few of us will invest in a decent pair of shades that are comfortable to wear, protect our eyes and, of course, look stylish. Instead, many consumers are often content with those cheapies perched on the white plastic carousel at the local supermarket. In our experience, these sunglasses offer far less protection and durability. If you have some extra dirhams, or perhaps a few thousand, Jeffrey Todd reviews three pairs of quality sunglasses that will keep you in the shade for years to come.
In the Second World War, Douglas MacArthur, the American general, was photographed on a beach in the Philippines wearing a pair of Ray-Ban aviators. There have been many imitators, but since then the company has come to define the Top Gun look.
Founded in 1937, Ray-Ban boasts experience and quality. The frames are light and strong, while the lenses reduce brightness, eliminate glare and offer 100 per cent protection from harmful UV rays. The latter is a common boast among its competitors, but in the case of Ray-Ban, you know they really mean it.
For those looking for a practical and quality pair of sunglasses, but don't want to pay designer prices, look no further. Basic models can run for as little as a few hundred dirhams. The company's website (www.ray-ban.com) even offers a "virtual mirror", which allows customers to try on their shades using a webcam.
This luxury Italian fashion label is a favourite among the world's rich and famous - and the brand's sunglasses range is no exception. This latest "jazz" collection seeks to combine feminine notes, bold chords and simple lines from the label's 1990s designs.
Created by Mario and Martino Prada in 1913, the company has a long history on the chic retail scene. The frames and lenses are made from high-quality materials and will certainly block out those harsh rays. For those who enjoy wearing brands, the name may also turn heads.
While this pair is reasonably priced, Prada sunglasses can be very expensive, costing well over Dh1,000. If practicality is your only criteria, keep in mind that Prada also makes all kinds of clothes and accessories. Going with a company that specialises in eyewear will ensure full protection from the sun.
Also from Italy, Dolce & Gabbana is another fashion label that's popular among the world's movers and shakers. But this model is special: its gold trim and dark lenses add an extra dash of glamour and mystery. The value of these shades is truly in the frames. Plated in 18-carat gold, the sunglasses come with a certificate of authenticity and their own jewellery case featuring a plaque and two drawers for cleaning cloths. A second semi-rigid case fashioned from black leather is also included.
How good is the UV protection? That's hardly the point. If you're looking to make a statement, or perhaps add some precious metal to your portfolio, these are the sunglasses for you. Like Prada, if fashion and design aren't terribly important, you might be better off with a cheaper, more practical brand. Dh2,130