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How wearing more can cool you off | News

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How wearing more can cool you off

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Many people wear less clothing to stay cool in the summer heat, but for centuries people in another part of the world have actually worn several layers of clothing and stayed cool.

In the deserts of the Middle East, Bedouins and Arabs wear robes of many layers from head to toe -- even on the hottest days.

"When I wear these things, I don't feel hot," says Wafa Haddad of the TigerLily Arabic Language Academy in Grand Rapids.  "They don't add heat. They will help you absorb all the sweat, and you will protect yourself from the sun."

Haddad is from Lebanon, where temperatures often hit 100 degrees or more.

Over thousands of years, people in the Middle East developed sub-blocking garments that allow perspiration and skin-cooling evaporation to maximize the body's natural air conditioning.

"I am cool because the material is protecting me from the heat," says Haddad.  "When you take off clothes, the sun is attacking the skin."

Because the head is the closest body part to the Arabian sun, it gets protection of its own, called the hattah.  Often, the folded layers of cloth are 100% cotton and are very light.

Another way people in the Middle East beat the heat is to avoid activity in the hottest part of the day.

"You avoid walking in the street between noon and three," says Haddad. "You avoid walking too much and you stay in the shade."

The desert dwellers also refresh their bodies with plenty of fluids.

"You cool your body off from the inside to outside so you don't even notice the sun anymore," says Haddad.

Wafa Haddad will share more information about Middle Eastern climate and culture during a presentation later this month at her TigerLily Arabic Language Academy.  The event is on July 25, and it is free.  The academy is on Plainfield Ave. NE near Leonard St.