Gulf flooding: Dubai airport chaos as UAE and Oman reel from deadly storms

Gulf flooding

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Heavy rain has been battering Gulf states, causing flash floods that have killed 20 people and disrupted flights at the world’s second-busiest airport.
Dubai Airport said it was facing “very challenging conditions” yesterday. It advised passengers not to turn up as runways were inundated with water.
Further north, a man died when his car was caught in flash floods.
In Oman, rescuers found the body of a girl in Saham, bringing the death toll in the country to 19 since Sunday.
Authorities also warned that more thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds were forecast, with many low-lying areas still under water.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman’s northern neighbour, experienced on Tuesday its largest rainfall event since records began 75 years ago.
The National Centre of Meteorology announced that 254.8mm (9.7in) had fallen on Khatm al-Shakla, in the emirate of al-Ain, over less than 24 hours.
The country averages 140-200 mm of rainfall per year, while Dubai typically receives only 97mm. The monthly average for April is only about 8mm.
Footage from the centre of Dubai showed dozens of submerged vehicles on a flooded part of Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as long traffic jams elsewhere on the 12-lane highway.
British tourist Caroline Seubert, 29, from Leyland in Lancashire, told the BBC that she and her husband were currently stranded at a shopping centre in Dubai.
Ms Seubert, who is 22 weeks pregnant, said they were headed to Dubai Malll ast Tuesday morning because they had booked tickets for its aquarium and had not been warned by their hotel that it could be unsafe because of the storm.
“The mall was flooded, ceilings were collapsing, the place shut at 7.30pm. We were told to leave, but the metro was shut and the taxis were not running or picking up in the area,” she said. “We were stranded, had to sleep in the mall lobby overnight.”
They managed to catch a taxi in the morning, but it could not reach their hotel and dropped them off at another mall on the way, she said.
“We still can’t get taxis to agree to take us to our hotel 15 minutes down the road, and our hotel refused to put their usual mall shuttle bus in in order to help people,” she said.
Another British citizen who lives in Dubai, Ross Moore, told the BBC the storm was “an incredible sight to see”.
“I have never seen anything like it in the UAE and I’ve been here since 2017,” said the 35-year-old. “The thunder and lightning was incredible, the noise was something I’ll never forget.”
He said his home was in an area on higher ground, so a little water came in but they have managed with sandbags and towels against the door.
“I went out with my son yesterday afternoon, just within our community, and everything was flooded, all the roads. Last night trucks came in and collected all the water.”
No deaths were reported in Dubai, but an elderly man was killed when his vehicle was swept away in a flash flood in Ras al-Khaimah.
Although the rain had eased by last Tuesday evening, Dubai International Airport warned yesterday morning that “recovery will take some time”.
The intense storm that began last Tuesday morning and continued through most of the day forced the airport to suspend operations for 25 minutes, divert several inbound planes and cancel a number of inbound and outbound flights.
Videos posted on social media showed aircraft ploughing through several inches of water that completely covered the airport’s apron and taxiways.
“We are currently experiencing significant disruption due to the weather and are continuously working with our emergency response teams and service partners to restore normal operations as quickly as possible,” it said on X, formerly Twitter.
Emirates, one of the UAE’s two flag carriers and the world’s largest international airline, meanwhile told customers that check-in had been suspended at the airport for all flights until midnight (20:00 GMT).
FlyDubai, Emirates’ low-cost sister airline, said some outbound flights would operate from one terminal after 20:00.
Its chief executive, Paul Griffiths, told local radio station Dubai Eye: “In living memory, I don’t think anyone has ever seen conditions like it.” (BBC)…[+]