My Favorite Star

I read in Monday’s The National that Suhail is up in the sky. My favorite star and perhaps the only one (apart from the sun) that I can name. I normally await it to appear eagerly towards the end of August, because it’s said to signal the end of the long, hot and humid summer days, and the beginning of the cooler season, whatever that is called in the UAE.
Encouraged by the news, I longed to feeling the fresher weather on my skin. I asked Angel to accompany me for a jog around Dubai Marina, we both got so excited about restarting our evening jogging routine, which had to be terminated few months ago, when the air got so thick, you could grab it in your hand!

I dug out my running shoes, and downloaded the C25K app on my iPhone. In the lower level of the Marina, a mixed current hovered about us, cool breeze touched my face, and warmer wind blew on my legs. “The current seems a bit confused” I said to Angel. “The warm wind is rising and the cool wind is trying to replace it” Angel replied. “Yes” I said under my teeth. Life makes much better sense if you’ve been to Pharmacy School, I thought to myself.

Dubai Marina at night

To Khalijis, Suhail holds a special cultural significance. We view it as a sign of prosperity and well being. When it’s spotted, Bedouins follow a special calendar (The Droror Agricultural Calendar) that details the season of Date Palms pollination, Camel grazing and other seasonal endeavors.

When I was younger, I watched my grandfather climb up the Palm Trees in our house in Sharjah, to pollinate them. We had 8 of them in our front yard, each of a different type. It wasn’t such an easy task, it was dangerous and exhausting, but he genuinely enjoyed it.

Later in the season he would go up again to pick the colorful fruits, some we ate, some we shared with the neighbors, the rest granddad stored for winter.

As he grew older, we hired a “Beidar” to maintain the trees. Years after his death, all of them were removed from the house, buying the dates from the market was obviously much easier than growing them.

My grandfather descended from a family of Pearl Divers, Suhail was more than just a glowing ball of fire to them, sailors depended on it to navigate their ways in the regional waters, and it guides the Bedouins across the desert at this time of the year.

Arabs identify dearly with the starry guide, they name their sons after it, they write poems about it, they even sing to it….

The bad news though is that Climate Change seems to have left no room for the traditional ways of life to occur. The Suhail Calendar is not as accurate as it used to be, which is presenting serious issues to the local date farmers and fishermen these days. We, on the other hand, might need to wait a bit longer this year before rolling out our outdoors actives schedule.


Meanwhile, Angel and I shall keep running, hopefully we’ll regain the shape lost during our sedentary phase in Ramadan soon,. I can’t wait to go mountain hiking again, this year I’ve got my head wrapped around doing Jabal Hafeet, and Jabal Akhdhar in Oman.

Plenty of running on the agenda indeed.


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