November 24 (The Guardian) – On 21 July 2016 the temperature in Mitribah, north-west Kuwait, reached 53.9C (129F). This was, at the time, the third-highest reading reliably recorded on Earth, and the hottest ever for the whole of Asia. To put this into perspective, this is more than 15C hotter than the UK record high, recorded three years later, of 38.7C.
The scorching temperature in Mitribah may have been unusual, but this oil-rich state at the top of the Gulf is used to very hot summers. Sandwiched between Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south, July temperatures here regularly reach the low 40Cs, so most people sensibly stay inside the air-conditioned buildings during the middle of the day; though that luxury is not available to many migrant workers.
Winters are surprisingly cool, with average temperatures in the mid-teens. Any rainfall that does occur – less than 130mm (about 5in) a year – falls between October and April, and mainly in the first three months of the year.
That record high in July 2016 could turn out to be even more significant. The claims of higher temperatures – in Tunisia and California – may be unreliable; so Kuwait may top the list – a position, amid the global climate emergency, that few nations will envy.