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Kuwaitis longed for rain, saved precious water in olden times

KUWAIT: With the beginning of winter, Kuwaitis of yore welcomed the rains that usually fall in the period of November to April. They used to welcome the season with special songs that some of us still sing nowadays, such as ‘teg ya matar teg’, ‘baitna yedeed, merzamna hadeed’ (fall rain, our house is new and our rain drainpipe is made of iron) and ‘ya um al-ghaith ghetheina, khalli al-matar yeyeena’ (oh, mother of rain, help us and let rain fall on us).

Kuwait’s arid desert climate forced old Kuwaitis to learn about various weather conditions, types of various clouds and the rain accompanying each type. According to Kuwaiti heritage researcher Hussein Al-Qattan, Kuwaitis gave different names to different types of rainfall. “They used ‘nemaily’ for light drizzling rain and ‘deemah’ for heavy rain that fell continuously for two or three days,” he explained, noting that they also used ‘sail’ for flooding rain and ‘sahab’ for heavy showers washing away whatever came in their way. Qattan added that Kuwaitis also used the term ‘reshrash’ for light showers of rain and the term ‘mezemat’ for lightning and thunderstorms. “They used the term ‘Wasm’ for the season between autumn and winter” he said.

Due to scarcity of freshwater, Kuwaitis were keen on saving rainwater by building roofs that were slightly inclined to help water flow into a ‘barcha’; a trench usually dug in the center of the house, lining its inner walls with cement to conserve the water inside. Kuwaitis also used ‘shutters’ – thick sail-like sheets of cloth used as canopies hung over the house’s inner yard with a hole centered right above the ‘barcha’ to direct rainwater into it. They saved rainwater falling on roads and alleys by digging special holes and building primitive sand berms to prevent the water from flowing into the sea, and used it for various purposes. – KUNA

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