Severe Storm Wreaks Havoc Across the United Arab Emirates

A powerful storm has caused widespread disruption and damage across the United Arab Emirates, forcing the cancellation of flights at Dubai’s international airport and leaving many residents stranded.

The UAE has experienced its heaviest rains in 75 years, according to meteorological authorities. One person was killed in flash flooding in Ras Al Khaimah, and over a dozen deaths were reported in Oman.

Operations at Dubai airport, a global travel hub and the world’s second-busiest airport, were severely disrupted as the storm raged. Inbound flights were diverted on Tuesday night, and Dubai flag carrier Emirates suspended passenger check-ins until midnight on Wednesday.

Vehicles were submerged in flooded roads and tunnels, highlighting the vulnerability of the region’s financial center to extreme weather. The impact of the storm on one of the world’s most expensive cities almost looked like scenes from a post-apocalyptic movie: flooded luxury malls, hotels, golf courses, and furniture flying off balconies of upscale residential buildings.

The rising waters also flooded Dubai’s desert suburbs — residents were forced to canoe and jet-ski along submerged roads. Financial Times reports that Dubai officials are concerned about the growing frequency of such storms as they overwhelm the city’s drainage systems during heavy rainfall.

The National Center of Meteorology, the government agency behind UAE’s cloud seeding program used to manage precipitation, had to clarify that they had no involvement in the extreme weather and said no pilots were deployed before or during the storm.

While the weather has improved by Wednesday, flooding has left standing water on roads across the country, and public transport has been severely disrupted, with many metro stations closed. Government employees and students have been told to stay home.

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