Snow (and Mia Khalifa) have been keeping the Middle East busy - in two radically different ways - while one is logging record cold temperatures the other is raising the heat - as storms wreaked havoc across the region this week. Nonetheless, kids and adults alike are somewhat enjoying being snowed-in, as shops, schools and roads have shut down in most areas, effectively paralyzing much of the sleepy region.
Still, while many are singing “Let it snow” while cosied up in their warm robes with chestnuts roasting on the open fire, refugees are bearing the brunt of the cold snap, enduring misery and hardship as they battle to stay warm and keep their makeshift shelters standing. Tragically, at least four displaced Syrians have died because of these natural forces, bent on silent destruction, including a three-month-old baby girl.
Just like Americans name each of their deadly tornadoes, à la Hurricane Katrina, Arab meteorologists and media outlets have dubbed this storm “Huda’” (with variations on the theme as the Lebanese are preferring Zena, warrior princess?) continuing the trend of labelling winter storms with female names. That said Saudi Arabia is reported to have bucked the feminization of the elements by adhering to a mighty male naming convention -- in this case, Abul Magady. As always with the Arab world, it’s each to their own. Last year's storm was named "Alexa"!
But the prevalent name Huda didn’t spring out of nowhere; "Huda" means the path to goodness and guidance and was given to the region’s current storm in the hope that it would bring rain for a successful agricultural season.
We’re celebrating the snow blanketing the Arab Middle East with white images from around the Levant, while noting the merriment and more often the misery that comes with each snow storm that makes itself at home in these habitually sunny spots.