The Summer Sizzle

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

sun-sky-lg-ua4ksuLast summer was one of the hottest on record for many parts of the Middle East with Kuwait having one of the most scorching summers ever. Forget about frying an egg on the sidewalk, in Kuwait you could roast an entire chicken on a garden wall or even a park bench. During the peak hours of the day, when the desert sun is at its most unforgiving peak, the streets of Kuwait are deserted leaving an entire nation looking like a ghost town. There really is not a whole lot to do outdoors when the mercury exceeds 100F and often reaches well above 115F. So where does everyone go?

For many of the denizens of Kuwait, hanging out in a heavily air-conditioned mall or catching Hollywood’s latest offering at a perfectly chilled movie theater complete with snacks is the best way to beat the scorching summer heat. For a very brave minority, who are willing to brave the heat, there are a limited number of water activities to engage in. Jet skiing and swimming, in the somewhat cool waters of Kuwait, are the top summer activities for adults and children alike. Many families wait until the sun goes down to hit the beaches of Kuwait and often spend the evening frolicking in the ocean despite there being limited lighting, no lifeguards on duty and razor sharp rocks just at the water’s edge.

One of the greatest pastimes during the summers in Kuwait is simply spending the day indoors at home. It might sound boring, but with a veritable smorgasbord of companies catering to people lounging around at home, the phrase “cabin fever” is meaningless. In Kuwait you can have just about anything, including the kitchen sink, delivered right to your door. Groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as donuts, pastries and ice cream are just a few of the edible items available for delivery. Electronic goods, designer perfumes, Swiss chocolates, high-end toiletries and even home appliances are some of the others.

For people wanting just a little bit more pampering and luxury in the comfort of their own home, without any of the fuss, teams of caterers will arrive at the door to cater a party or even prepare an elaborate barbeque right in the backyard. There is even a new delivery service available that provides “shisha” pipes for use at home complete with a server to light the charcoal. And if that’s not enough, why not have a team of manicurists and masseuses come over to pamper everyone in the home?

The summers may be hot in Kuwait, and while they absolutely do force a mass exodus of travelers who are seeking cooler temperatures, those left behind can still enjoy a little bit of luxury without even setting foot outdoors.

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Arabian Sea Host to Rare Humpbacked Whales

April 28, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

humpback_2The Middle East is host to a veritable smorgasbord of treasures ranging from the Oud, or Arabian stringed instrument, to the finest breeds of horses in the world.  At the onset of this year Marine Scientist Robert Baldwin, in cooperation with the Environment Society of Oman (ESO), revealed that a rare species of humpbacked whale was discovered in the Arabian Sea specifically alongside the coast of Oman.

Baldwin led his own team of researchers in studying the new species, which has just recently been named the “Arabian Sea Humpback Whale” by the International Whaling Commission. The researchers were able to collect an immense amount of data including samples of DNA and more than 10,000 photographs of the whales in their natural habitat. They also studied behavioral and social patterns of the newly discovered mammals to better understand how to preserve and protect the species from harm. 

What makes the Arabian Sea Humpbacked Whales so unique from other whales is that they do not migrate. Other breeds of whales are nomads and regularly migrate in search of food, better water temperatures depending on the season and for breeding purposes. These whales prefer to stay close to home, off the coast of Oman, and will spend their lifetime in the exact same place. The Arabian Sea Humpbacked Whales must be able to fulfill all of the activities of a regular whale while never moving too far from home.

According to Baldwin, the newly discovered breed of whale is so unique that it is one of the most at risk whale species in the world. In a recent statement Baldwin said, “Not only are these whales distinct in this regard, but our recent research also indicates they are one of the smallest and potentially most vulnerable whale populations in the world.” The whales face threats both on land and in the sea in the form of pollution, urban development that often extends into the ocean with manmade islands, sea crafts and rising sea temperatures during the summer months that force the warm-blooded whales to marinate in water the temperature of soup.

Several of Oman’s ministries, including the Ministry of Fisheries, have vowed to take whatever measures necessary to protect the newly discovered national treasure. The Executive Director of ESO, Lamees Daar, recently was quoted as saying “Now, more than ever, we have a huge responsibility to keep our seas healthy and by working with both Ministries our combined efforts will have a greater impact on the protection and conservation of this species.”

In the interim the Omani-Based Renaissance Whale and Dolphin Project, currently managed by Marine Scientist Andrew Wilson, will oversee the well being of the whales until more data is gathered and processed to determine the best course of action to ensure the longevity of the population.

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