London hotter than parts of the Middle East as UK heatwave continues

Britain set for its hottest day on record

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People in Britain are bracing themselves for the country's hottest day on record as a heatwave continues — and it could even be warmer than some parts of the Middle East.

Temperatures could hit 40ºC in London and parts of southern England on Tuesday, with 56 per cent humidity making it feel stifling.

Europe faces rising temperatures and wildfires have spread in Spain and Portugal. Northern Europe is especially ill-equipped for such temperatures, with air conditioning rare.

Here's where it is cooler today

Cairo

Highs of 37ºC and lows of 24ºC, with humidity at 66 per cent.

Although air conditioning is common, summer in a city of 9.5 million can be stifling, with the Nile River only adding to the humidity. Many families escape to Alexandria and the Mediterranean coast for respite.

Beirut

Highs of 31ºC and lows of 24ºC, with humidity at 79 per cent, which will make it feel much hotter.

"A devastating economic collapse, that has seen the local currency lose more than 90 per cent of value, has seen much of Lebanon plunged into poverty," The National's Jamie Prentis in Beirut says.

"State electricity is nearly non-existent, meaning much of the population is without power and air conditioning in the hot summer months.

"For those who can afford it, they turn to expensive generators to fill the gap."

Lebanon is at high risk of wildfires on Tuesday amid the scorching heat and south-westerly to southerly winds that will blow between 10 and 30 kilometres an hour.

Muscat

Highs of 33ºC and lows of 27ºC, with humidity high at 78 per cent, and rain forecast for Tuesday.

The Omani capital bears the brunt of Indian Ocean weather fronts. Last week, 19 people died when heavy rainfall led to flooding nationwide.

As a result, it is often cooler, but the weather is more unstable.

Families often head to the southern coast around the city of Salalah, which was 28ºC on Tuesday, with drizzle and a breeze.

And where it is hotter ...

Abu Dhabi

Highs of 40ºC and lows of 31ºC, with humidity at 35 per cent, which is low for this time of year.

The UAE capital fares about the same as London today, with the mercury slightly higher. But with air conditioning in every apartment, public office and mall, it feels much cooler.

Humidity is much lower after a recent early summer blast. Along the coast, Dubai is marginally hotter, at 41ºC and tends to be slightly drier than its northern neighbour.

Baghdad

Highs of 47ºC and lows of 28C, with humidity at 15 per cent.

The Iraqi capital is often one of the hottest cities in the world, sweltering under the desert sun for much of the summer.

A dry desert heat only offers limited respite. To the south, Basra can see similar temperatures coupled with sky-high humidity. Families struggle with interrupted energy supplies, high costs and old air-conditioning systems.

Kuwait

Highs of 48ºC and lows of 34ºC, with 12 per cent humidity.

Often the hottest place in the world in the summer, Kuwait bakes for months every year. It recorded 53ºC one day last month.

Scientists said the Gulf is the "canary in the coal mine" for climate change, and will see the brunt of rising temperatures and sea levels.

Kuwait, a major oil producer, says it will play its part to tackle emissions and climate change, upping renewable energy production from 1 per cent to 15 per cent by 2030.

How air conditioning makes life possible

Housing in European countries has long been built to keep people warm in the winter. Air conditioning was almost never considered as a must-have home appliance, because the European summers have been known to be temperate.

But with climate change came the impossibly high temperatures across the globe during the summer.

The UK's housing designs factored in the cold winters and also the best way to trap heat and reduce energy bills, resulting in lots of insulation. This makes it hot in the summer months.

In the Gulf region, the situation is less dire as air conditioning is commonplace, with as much as 70 per cent of electricity used to power AC units.

Updated: July 19, 2022, 10:38 AM
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