As Mideast temperatures soar, Iraqis lament the 'fiery August, that burns the nails on the doors'

The World
A Bagdad resident plunges into the Tigris river, sandals and all.

Hot weather is no big deal to Iraqis. But when temperatures soar to the point where scorching hot liquid comes out of cold water taps, even Baghdad residents struggle to cope. 

"Because the pipes mostly are outside in the sun, the (cold tap) water is hot enough to make tea and coffee," says Iraqi journalist Sahar Issa. "It's so hot that what we do is that we have several containers, and we keep them full of water at all times, so at least the water has time to cool down a little."

The tap water is heating up because of the sweltering weather that has gripped much of the Middle East in recent weeks. Issa says residents are calling this a "fiery August, that burns the nails on the doors." She says temperatures in Baghdad are climbing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. And there's little relief from air conditioning or fans because Iraq's dilapidated power network provides little electricity. 

"This is our eternal scourge," she says, adding, "There are several million people displaced because of the wars in Iraq, they don't even have electricity, they hardly have water to drink. " That despite the expenditure of billions to resurrect Iraq's power system after the US invasion in 2003. 

Issa says Iraqis trying to beat the heat splash water on the tiles in their homes. 

"If they have a fan, then it tries to cool the tiles, and then they sleep on the tiles," she says.

The oppressive August heat doesn't stop many Baghdad residents from enjoying hot tea. Others plunge into the the Tigris river. 

"It is mostly boys from age 7 to 16," she says. "You find them scantily dressed, mostly in underwear, and they are just going in the water, and a lot of them can't swim. And they are just sitting in the water to cool down. But they have to be very careful, because they can get sunstroke." 

Issa admits she envies the boys' freedom to cool down in the river at end of the day.

"I wish I could go and jump," she says. "Formerly, maybe it would have been possible to some degree. But in this society today it is just not possible."

Will you support The World?

There is no paywall on the story you just read because a community of dedicated listeners and readers have contributed to keep the global news you rely on free and accessible for all. Will you join the 314 donors who’ve stepped up to support The World? From now until Dec. 31, your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 match. Donate today to double your impact and keep The World free and accessible.