DUBAI Residents sporting an umbrella in dry Dubai aren’t being tacky – they are literally cool people as brollies can slash the peak daytime heat by about six degrees Celsius.

XPRESS went under the shade of a typical umbrella this week to see if using it made any difference in comfort during the scorching afternoon.

Multiple readings were taken around 2.30pm on two days on a detached air temperature sensor normally fixed on car dashboards. The needle on its dial hovered around 50-51C when exposed to direct sunlight.

But after placing it under an umbrella, the needle swung back to about 45-46C within 10 minutes – a cool five or six degree difference.

UV Protection

Not only are umbrellas cool, but they could also save you from skin disease and cancer caused by severe sun exposure, health experts said.

By blocking out the sun’s visible as well as invisible ultraviolet rays, umbrellas can protect the skin from burns, ageing and cancer, dermatologists said.

“They’re especially good for children as their skin is more sensitive. Umbrellas work against the sun’s threat, that’s why we’ve got umbrellas on the beach,” said specialist dermatologist Dr Nabeela Rashid from Dubai’s Medcare Hospital. “It is the period from 11am to 4pm when an umbrella should be used. You should also use a wide-spectrum sun screen lotion 15 to 20 minutes before stepping out.”

Another specialist Dubai dermatologist, Dr Nameer Abdul Majeed from Aster Medical Centre, said: “It’s believed as much as 80 per cent of skin ageing can be ascribed to sun exposure. Clinical findings of photo-aged skin include [conditions like] sunburn and they are also associated with an increased risk of melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

“These findings stress the importance of sun protection in the prevention of skin ageing... Using an umbrella should provide adequate sun protection as it’s a physical barrier that blocks the direct rays of the sun meeting the exposed parts of the skin.

“Yet this alone would not provide adequate protection as the rays are so harsh here, they reflect off the ground and also permeate your clothing.

“A dark coloured umbrella and one with wider rim would provide good relief from the sun’s rays. Brightly coloured or designer umbrellas with small rims wouldn’t give the right protection. We do definitely suggest people use a good umbrella when stepping out.”

Umbrellas are rare in Dubai, which has no rainy season. Summer lasts most of the year and is typically bone dry. Yet this is when many brollies can be spotted outdoors, with residents scrambling for cover against the fierce sun rather than any looming deluge.