Power networks struggle in Baghdad and building work halted in Riyadh, while high humidity affects coastal cities
While Europe does battle with a heatwave named Lucifer, the Middle East is enduring a summer so brutal that even those accustomed to Baghdads searing August are labelling it ungodly.
As temperatures rose towards 51C on Thursday, Iraqs government declared a mandatory holiday, allowing civic servants to shelter at home.
So far this month in the Iraqi capital, every day but one has reached 48C or higher, and the forecast is for the high temperatures to continue for the next week. July was little different, in Iraq and in Syria, where the capital, Damascus, has also been several degrees hotter than usual nearly every day since late June.
In Kuwait, where birds have reportedly dropped from the skies, and Riyadh, where building work has ceased this week, locals have called for mercy from a hotter-than-normal air mass that has remained nearly stationary over central Arabia for more than three weeks, stretching the capacity of electricity networks beyond limits.
While the centre of the region is being scorched, on the Mediterranean coast Beirut and Istanbul have also been blighted by a cruel summer in their cases, extreme humidity that has made comparatively modest daytime temperatures seem far higher.
In Baghdad, the perennially under-funded state power network has again failed to cope with the annual onslaught, as demand for power for air conditioners and water coolers far exceeds the capacity to supply it.
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