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Dubai struggles to recover from record rains in the United Arab Emirates

Flooded highways, closed schools and disrupted air traffic: Dubai struggled Wednesday à recover from the record rains which fell the day before on the most famous of the Gulf emirates.

Despite the return of the sun, long lines formed on six-lane highways, some sections of which were still submerged, with the United Arab Emirates having recorded 254 millimeters (mm) of rain in one day on Tuesday, the equivalent of nearly two years of precipitation in this desert country.

After the cancellation and diversion of dozens of flights the day before, travelers were invited on Wednesday not to go to Dubai airport, the busiest in the world in terms of international traffic, “unless absolutely necessary”.

“Flights continue to be delayed and diverted… We are working hard to restore operations as quickly as possible in very difficult conditions,” said a spokesperson for Dubai Airports.< /p>

The airline Emirates, the flagship of the emirate, has suspended registrations, due to difficulties in accessing the airport for staff and passengers, with roads still being blocked and some metro services suspended.

Long queues formed in front of airport taxi ranks, while many passengers at the airport interior were waiting for news of their flight.

“It’s complete chaos, no information, nothing,” fumed a passenger, while a crowd gathered in front of an information desk whistled in protest.

In the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, at least one person died, a 70-year-old man whose car was swept away by the waters, police announced.

– “Horrible” situation –

In a televised intervention, the President of the Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, ordered authorities “to quickly examine the state of infrastructure across the country and limit the damage caused”, according to the official WAM news agency.

Dubai struggles to recover from record rains in the United Arab Emirates

A flooded road in Dubai after heavy rains, April 17, 2024 © AFP – Giuseppe CACACE

He also asked that families whose homes were affected by bad weather be housed in safe places.

Taken by surprise by torrential rains, a motorist whose 15-minute journey on Tuesday turned into a 12-hour epic says he was “very scared”.

“It was one of the most horrible situations I had ever been through, because I knew that if my car broke down, it would sink and I would would drown with it,” he told AFP, without wanting to give his name.

On Wednesday, some homes were still without power, while abandoned cars continued to float in certain neighborhoods still flooded with water.

The authorities announced the closure of schools all week, highlighting the difficulties of returning to normal.

– “Very difficult conditions” –

The storm hit the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Monday and Tuesday , after hitting Oman, another Gulf country, where 19 people, including several children, were killed.

Rainfall in the United Arab Emirates is the heaviest ever recorded in the country, since records began in 1949, according to the authorities.

Dubai struggles to recover from record rains in the United Arab Emirates

Vehicles on a flooded street near heavy rains in Dubai, April 17, 2024 © AFP – Giuseppe CACACE

For Friederike Otto, lecturer in climate sciences at the Grantham Institute of Imperial College London, “the deadly and destructive rains in Oman and Dubai” were probably accentuated by “induced climate change by man.”

“Desert terrains need more time than others for water to infiltrate. The amount of rain that fell was. too large to be absorbed,” said Maryam Al Shehhi, of the National Meteorology Center, assuring that the country had not resorted to cloud seeding.

This technology, often used in the country to generate artificial rain, was not deployed because the storm “was already strong”, she said.

< p>Schools will also remain closed until next week in Bahrain, which recorded record one-day rainfall of 96.88 mm on Tuesday, beating the 67.9 mm recorded in 1995.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116