Bahrain has issued a health warning to people who will be fasting during Ramadan amid fears that temperatures could reach up to 50C.
The holy month is expected to start in mid-July, only the third time since the 1970s that it has fallen during the hottest months of the year.
Eating and drinking in public will be banned during daylight hours throughout Ramadan and an annual awareness campaign is set to be launched by the Health Ministry in a bid to prevent people from suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion, particularly labourers who spend most of their time outdoors.
“In Bahrain and the Gulf region in general the temperature may approach up to 50 degrees in the summer which can create complications like heat cramps, exhaustion and sunstroke,” said Health Ministry consultant family physician and public health nutritionist Dr Abeer Al Ghawi.
“Every year during this season, we conduct a campaign to highlight the importance of adopting a number of preventive measures to raise the public awareness of such risks.
“We will try to reach the public through mass media, social media and printed educational material and lectures which will be conducted at a number of companies.
“The campaign is essential during the holy month because dehydration may increase the risk and seriousness of heatstroke and the long hot day makes fasting more difficult.
“Our main advice for the public in Ramadan is to drink an adequate amount of water during Iftar time and to avoid soft drinks and excess caffeine intake. Also, they need to advance the Iftar meal, delay Suhoor meal and have less salty dishes and more fibre-rich foods in order to avoid being thirsty.”
The Meteorological Directorate said it was too early to predict exactly how high temperatures may reach during Ramadan.
But they warned it could be worse than last year when the maximum temperature reached 40C on at least 15 days last July and August.
“Bahrain’s climate during summer is generally hot and dry and the hottest months are July and August with average maximum temperatures of 38C,” said an expert. “However, in the last few years, temperatures in July and August in Bahrain were even higher than normal and it is now 1.5C to 2C above the monthly average.”
Dr Ghawi, who is also Health Promotion Directorate research and production chief, said people with health problems such as diabetes, heart conditions and kidney diseases, have been advised to visit their doctor one month prior to Ramadan to ensure they will be able to fast safely and adjust their medication schedule, if necessary.
Meanwhile, a Cabinet spokesman said even if temperatures reached 50C a public holiday will not be declared – as is believed to be the case in Kuwait.
“We do not give a day off if the temperature reaches 50C, because simply the weather in this region is always hot in the summer,” he said.
“If we applied this, we will end up having a holiday every now and then during the summer season which will create chaos in the country.
“Only construction workers in the street get to have a break during the peak of the heat, because it is impossible for them to work under such circumstances.”
Temperatures in region could hit 70C
Meanwhile, a Saudi astronomer has forecast that temperatures could reach up to 70 degrees C under direct sunlight in parts of Saudi Arabia over the next 60 days and 50C in shaded places.
Arab Federation for Space Science member Dr Khalid Al Zaaq told the Saudi newspaper Al Watan yesterday that the sun is expected to reach its highest point and exude much heat from its core, irradiating the entire earth during the 13-day windy and dusty (twaybi’) season considered one of the hottest this year.
Temperature is expected to reach 70C in open places, especially on white surfaces, desert sands, black and solid mountainous terrain, and between 50C to 60C as usual on earth surface. He said Friday will be the longest day, with the shortest spanning night of the year.
Source: Trade Arabia