It’s the weekend, our final day here in the Kingdom, and by 9am it’s already hot as hell. My early morning swim was a relief from the heat for its duration, but as soon as I towelled myself dry, the heat and the sweat was back again. That’s one thing they don’t tell you on bottles of sunscreen – for all that they pretend they’re waterproof and everything else proof, they’re no match for sweat. Apply sunscreen and step out of the door here; within two minutes your arms will be white again. You’re sweating it out.

The sea is still as a mill-pond this morning and no breeze has come to bring relief. Sunlight reflects off the surface of the water, glaring and blinding just as strongly as its cousin in the sky above.

It’s going to be another long, hot day by the shores of the Persian Gulf.

By early afternoon our work here is done. Three and a half days of work passed in but a moment, and now all that’s left is the short wind down to our departure. The pool beckons, washing off the day’s heat and dust and offering the distant promise that spending enough time there would leave one both fit and tanned. Both these goals have eluded me for most of my life, but I head there anyway just in case. Back and forth for a while, breast stroke and the nameless I’m-wearing-a-lifejacket stroke, the only two that I can still manage without my incompetence showing. And when I’m done, craving a drink, swimming gear is left on the steps of the villa to dry in but a few minutes.

The sun dips lower in the western sky, and goodbyes are said to those who we will not see again until September. And once September’s trip has been and gone, these goodbyes will be to people we may never see again.

Soon a taxi will arrive and take us away once more, along the desert road as dusk closes in, across the Causeway as night falls, and on into another humid evening in Bahrain where our flight awaits.