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‘Life halts when a storm hits’: how a climate threat affects Cairo and Dubai

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As a young girl, I used to check the weather by looking out of my fifth-floor flat window. We lived in a congested neighbourhood in Cairo, and some days were what I called “orange-coloured weather”, when sandstorms fogged the streets below.

On those days, I knew there was no way I could go to school. I had asthma and needed to avoid attacks that could leave me breathless and in desperate need of an inhaler. I always wondered: was I the only one skipping school that day to protect my lungs?

It was only when I moved to Dubai a decade later that I began to understand how a changing climate could affect my life.

I woke up to another sandstorm recently. This time from my ninth-floor flat in the west side of Dubai. The foggy blur from my window was familiar, but this time I didn’t hesitate to walk out of my front door to meet my friend.

Asthma is quite prevalent in Egypt, affecting roughly 8% of children and 6% of adults, according to the Egyptian health ministry. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), rates are between 2.8% and 8%.

The Middle East has always been hit by dust and…

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