Dubai dries up after torrential rain


A day after the heaviest rain since record keeping of rainfall in this region in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the sun came out again.

By Wednesday, however, scores of abandoned cars swept away by floodwaters still stood in the flooded streets of Dubai, the Middle East’s financial center, while scores of power outages across the city had to be restored.

A road tunnel near Dubai’s international airport, the busiest in the world, was still completely underwater as of yesterday.

The airport’s operations resumed at a snail’s pace on Wednesday. Many staff were unable to show up for work due to flooded roads and public transport systems still suspended.

Almost every flight has been delayed since Tuesday because of the storm.

“They are completely lost. It’s total chaos – no information, nothing,” said a traveler on Wednesday after a 12-hour wait at the airport.

Schools in Dubai remain closed until next week while attention is given to the clean-up work.

Meanwhile, residents tell of narrow escapes.

“It was one of the most horrible situations I’ve ever experienced,” says one Dubai resident after his daily 15-minute commute turned into a 12-hour ordeal on flooded roads on Tuesday.

“I knew that if my car broke down, it would sink and I would drown.”

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, meanwhile ordered that “authorities must work quickly to assess the condition of infrastructure throughout the UAE and to limit the damage caused”.

Sheg Mohamed also asked that all affected families be taken to a place of safety.

As much as 259.5 mm of rain fell across the UAE on Tuesday.

The state-run WAM news agency called the rain “a historic weather event” that “exceeds anything documented since data collection began in 1949”.

However, Maryam Al Shehhi, senior weather forecaster at the UAE’s National Center for Meteorology, denies a report in which it is now claimed that the UAE would milk clouds by spraying chemicals to increase rainfall.

“We didn’t milk clouds because the storm was already strong,” she told AFP.

Friederike Otto, a meteorologist and a specialist in assessing the role of climate change on extreme weather events, said it was “misleading” to focus on cloud milking.

“The heaviest rainfall in Dubai in 75 years did not occur due to cloud milking. When we talk about heavy rainfall, we have to talk about climate change.”