Historic UAE Flooding Claims 19 Lives

A taxi navigates floodwaters in Dubai. | Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images

Unprecedented rainfall has brought Dubai, known for its arid climate, to a standstill, causing severe flooding and widespread disruption across the United Arab Emirates and neighboring Oman.

In a matter of 24 hours, the region experienced the equivalent of two years’ worth of rainfall, leading to chaos on roads, shutdowns at airports, and tragic fatalities.

The National Committee for Emergency Management has recorded at least 18 deaths in Oman, and at least one death has been reported in Dubai, per NBC.

The heavy rain, which began on Monday night and persisted through Tuesday, hit Dubai with an astonishing 5.59  inches of rainfall. This staggering amount far surpassed the city’s annual average of 3.73 inches, as reported by NBC News.

This is the heaviest rainfall the UAE has received in 75 years, with some areas being hit with over 10 inches of rain within a 24-hour period, according to reports from the state media office via X. The consequences of this historic rainfall were swift and severe.

Dubai International Airport (DXB), one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs, struggled to cope with the deluge, with taxiways submerged and operations disrupted. The airport was forced to divert inbound flights and halt departures due to the exceptional weather conditions, per a DXB social media statement. Passengers were urged to avoid the airport unless absolutely necessary, with departures suspended and arrivals halted during the height of the storm.  

The flooding also prompted authorities to issue a stay-at-home advisory, compelling government entities and private schools to operate remotely to ensure the safety of residents. 

Images and videos circulating on social media depicted scenes of chaos and devastation, with flooded streets, submerged vehicles, and impassable highways. Dubai’s iconic Sheikh Zayed Road, a bustling thoroughfare typically filled with traffic, resembled a waterlogged canal as cars and buses lay abandoned in murky waters, as evident in a post by X user Ume Rumba. 

As the rainfall eased on Tuesday night, the challenges persisted, with recovery efforts hindered by lingering flooding and treacherous road conditions. Emirates airline announced that check-in for departing flights would not start until midnight local time on Wednesday due to operational challenges stemming from the adverse weather conditions.

While Dubai typically receives the bulk of its annual rainfall between November and March, the intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall events are on the rise, posing significant challenges for infrastructure and emergency response capabilities.

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