Watching the 4th installment of the Mission Impossible series, a part of it was shot in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. For those who haven’t watched and those who do not remember, there is a scene in which Tom Cruise is chasing the Russian guy in possession of the nuclear launch codes from the Burj Khalifa. He then proceeds to get caught in a sandstorm and thus loses the bad guy. The other two, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner, notice the storm about 20 minutes before it actually reaches the hotel and gasp at how quickly it’s gathering up force. This was a yearly occurrence when we used to live in Dubai.
The years 1997-2001 were the times when the world was changing once again. Mobile phones, computers and TVs had become the rage and if you owned one, you could have been considered to be rich. We owned one mobile phone, a 21″ TV and a computer which, at the age of 5, could be used by me without supervision. What an accomplishment, no 5 year old would say at present, but for me it was a moment to brag to my friends. My parents were also getting used to moving around the city on their own because they now owned a brand spanking new Toyota Camry. So therefore it was pretty much the best time ever!
There were very few things that could disrupt the life of people in the Gulf. One, the power goes out and people start to melt because of no AC! Second, nearly half the country’s population has gone back to their home country for the holidays. And finally, when a sandstorm hits the scene. Sandstorms are basically gusts of strong and fast winds that originate in the desert and thus carry sand with them. Since the sand is carried at such huge speeds, it tends to wound and scratch people. Therefore people are warned not to go outside during a sandstorm. Generally they occur in the summer and tend to disable everyone’s vision with that much amount of sand flying in the air!
What makes it worse is that you cannot open your windows and doors for fear of your house becoming like a desert. People whose apartments have window ACs, those kind of ACs that have vents, tend to suffer more. When we lived in Dubai, we had those ACs. So we had to shut the vents and breathe in our own expelled air until the storm stopped. We had large windows which didn’t open much. But seeing the swirls of sand blocking everyone’s view and going outside to observe the aftermath of the storm, which consisted of huge piles of sand on roads, banners, signs and anything light to be carried around by the wind, on the ground made me realise something. Amidst the concrete jungle where I lived, Mother Nature still had the power to remind us who’s stronger – even in a place where there was more ground than water to speak of!