video | Kuwait is trying to adapt to the high temperatures

video |  Kuwait is trying to adapt to the high temperatures

Alley, palm trees, shops under small buildings, crowded restaurant terraces: the place looks like an ordinary street, but in reality it is located in a luxurious air-conditioned shopping center in Kuwait, one of the hottest countries in the world.

This place borrows an aspect of normal life to provide a refuge for some of the nearly four million residents of the oil-rich Gulf state, who are accustomed to a scorching summer, when the temperature reaches about 50 degrees Celsius.

Outside, pedestrians are rarely seen, even in the traditional market, where a few people walk exhausted from the heat.

In this market, Abdullah Ashkanani opens his date store, which he has been running for 30 years, during the summer, although he is fully aware that the heat greatly reduces the number of customers.

The 53-year-old Iranian, who has lived in Kuwait since 1997, said, “In the summer, most people leave, and a few remain, and no one is in the market” most of the time.

Behind a translucent fabric on the terrace of a nearby café, a group of Kuwaitis sit near an air conditioner.

“We managed to withstand (the heat) thanks to the air conditioning at home, in the car and in this cafe,” said Abu Muhammad, who wore a white traditional dress.

But this retiree, who says he has forgotten his age, also knows that excessive energy consumption, from skyscrapers to large cars, “brought this heat” to Kuwait.

Like other Gulf countries, Kuwait is an oil-producing country, an industry that contributes to global warming. The country contributes to one of the highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world.

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longer summer

While the northern hemisphere is going through a state of “boiling” this summer, well-known Kuwaiti meteorologist Issa Ramadan warns that “what is happening here will happen elsewhere.”

He believes that the regions of southern Iraq and northern Saudi Arabia are witnessing particularly hot and dry summers, due to their geographical location and northwesterly winds.

In northern Kuwait, with temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius, the arid region of Mutreba records some of the highest temperatures in the world after Death Valley in the United States.

With the increase in energy consumption, global warming rates have intensified over the past twenty years, and the period of extreme heat extended “from two weeks to about a month,” according to Ramadan.

He explained, “There is a creeping of the seasons. For example, the summer season, instead of ending relatively and entering the autumn season at the beginning of September, has become extended for a longer period, between two weeks to about a month, and the temperature begins to decrease in the beginning of October.”

He said that at the end of the last century, the number of days when the temperature is more than 50 degrees Celsius has become about 64.

The wealthy country has some of the largest reserves of black gold in the world and has only recently invested in public transport and green energy, notably the Shagaya project, the country’s first commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) plant.

Renewable energy projects

Samira Al-Kandari, Acting Director General of the Environment Public Authority, confirms that “there has indeed been a rise in temperatures in recent years,” noting that there are “several renewable energy projects, the most important of which is Shagaya.”

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She stated that the first phase of the project was “completed,” adding, “We are currently preparing for the second phase so that 15 percent of energy production will come from renewable energy by 2035. God willing, in a future step, we will increase this percentage.”

On the ground, there are some individual initiatives, including that of Issa Al-Essa, a 46-year-old dentist who has been planting trees at home as a “hobby”.

But during 2020, he studied the issue further and established the “Kuwait Forest” project to plant the country’s “first forest” on the outskirts of the capital, realizing that trees absorb carbon dioxide.

In an empty plot of land near his home, he started planting trees, checking them out early in the morning in the 46 degrees Celsius shade.

“The places where we need trees the most are polluted places, industrial places, and places where people live,” he says, considering that it has become urgent to “separate residential areas with greenery.”


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