Nation (photos)

Photos: Inside UAE's coldest area where the weather is icy

Nandini Sircar

Published on January 12, 2021 at 15.37

Several residents have been driving down to Al Ain's Rakhna that has been seeing sub-zero temperature drops.

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Al Ain’s Rakhna is the UAE’s coolest place. Literally. The area has seen sub-zero temperatures twice this week, resulting in icicles and water freezing over. Fahad Mohammed, who is a co-founder of the UAE’s Storm Centre, has been driving down regularly to Rakhna from Dubai to make the most of the freezing weather conditions.
He is unfazed by the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) test at the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border and the hour-and-a-half drive. He frequently posts breathtaking pictures on his Instagram page. The photographs reveal rare frost flowers and a sheet of ice sitting pretty on long-stemmed plants. — Photos: Storm Centre UAE
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He described his passion for winter expeditions. “It’s a visual treasure trove that’s well worth a visit to Rakhna. I’ve come across fleeting delicate frozen formations sprouting from certain plant stems in the local flora there. It’s a beautiful experience.”
Fahad has been there and done that, including driving to Rakhna in the middle of the night and camping there till early morning.
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“I closely follow the weather forecasts and identify days when it’s going to be freezing cold. I choose my moments to enjoy the cold. Usually, I leave around 2.30am and stay there till 7.30am. You get to see a layer of frost on the car in the UAE, a country that’s best known for its sizzling hot weather. I’ve been to various locations such as Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) to capture the beauty of a cold wintry night. It’s picturesque. It’s unbelievable,” he added.
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Ali Al Neyadi, an Al Ain resident, is always dressed in a woollen kandura, over double T-shirts, when he heads out to take in the sights and sounds of a cold January. Ali is an avid camper and a member of the Storm Centre. He, too, loves exploring the country’s cold wilderness. His new-found obsession is looking for icicles, as it helps to take his minds off the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
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Diverse groups of people have been going into a huddle, while taking adequate precautionary measures to keep the contagion at bay and lighting bonfires to cope with an unusual dip in temperatures. Sultan Mohammed Al Mansouri, another Emirati national, has also jumped on the winter bandwagon.
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“I’ve all along been an Al Ain resident. But such low temperatures are a novel experience. I get a high while clicking beautiful and rare photographs. It’s like back to basics,” he said. “I shopped for a jacket because I knew what I was in for. This is so unheard of when you think of the UAE … shopping for warm clothes,” he laughingly added.
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“It was freezing in Rakhna for three-four consecutive nights. Mercury has dipped below the freezing point. This is certainly unusual and a first-of-its kind experience. Ice covers cars and greenery in the Abu Dhabi desert," said Al Mansouri.
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“So, each year, whenever, there is a similar weather condition, I try to capture the mood and enjoy the best winter days of the country. It’s a welcome respite from sultry summer months that we are more used to,” he added.
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