Dubai's international airport reels from record rainfall that stormed UAE

Dubai's international airport reels from record rainfall that stormed UAE
The United Arab Emirates is still grappling with the aftermath of a record-breaking storm this week that brought much of the country to a standstill.
3 min read
18 April, 2024
Dubai's major international airport diverted scores of incoming flights on April 16 as heavy rains lashed the United Arab Emirates, causing widespread flooding around the desert country [Getty]

The United Arab Emirates struggled on Thursday to recover from the heaviest recorded rainfall ever to hit the desert nation as its main airport worked to restore normal operations even as floodwater still covered portions of major highways and roads. 

Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel, allowed global carriers on Thursday morning to again fly into Terminal 1 at the airfield. 

"Flights continue to be delayed and disrupted, so we urge you to only come to Terminal 1 if you have a confirmed booking," the airport said on the social platform X. 

The long-haul carrier Emirates, whose operations had been struggling since the storm Tuesday, stopped travellers flying out of the UAE from checking into their flights as they tried to move out connecting passengers.  

Others who arrived at the airport described hourslong waits to get their baggage, with some just giving up heading home or to whatever hotel would have them, the Associated Press reported. 

Scores of flights were also delayed, cancelled and diverted during Tuesday's torrential rain when planes were recorded taxiing through deep water. 

Airport staff were unable to arrive with roads flooded and most public transport was suspended. 

A staff member who spoke anonymously to The New Arab said that they were off duty on Tuesday but were scheduled to return to work on Wednesday. 

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They said they made great attempts to commute by public transport on Wednesday, as it was unsafe to travel by car amid the floods. 

"All the buses weren’t working," they told The New Arab. "I don’t know what to say other than that it's bad here. Just bad."

They recounted details told by others who said they had to work "double shifts" amid the airport chaos.  

The employee added that another person who completed their shift at 3 p.m. did not arrive at home until 2:30 a.m. the following morning. 

They were also forced to abandon their car on the road on the route, which was submerged in water. 

The UAE typically sees little rainfall in its arid desert climate. However, a massive storm that forecasters had been warning about for days blew through the country's seven emirates. 

By the end of Tuesday, more than 142 millimetres (5.59 inches) of rainfall had soaked Dubai over 24 hours. An average year sees 94.7 millimetres (3.73 inches) of rain at Dubai International Airport. Other areas of the country saw even more precipitation. 

The UAE's drainage systems quickly became overwhelmed, flooding out neighbourhoods, business districts and even portions of the 12-lane Sheikh Zayed Road highway running through Dubai. 

Record breaking rains in Dubai, UAE on April 16th 2024
byu/MaxxMeridius ininteresting

At least one person was killed, a 70-year-old man who was swept away in his car in Ras Al-Khaimah, police said. 

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

The storms descended on the UAE, Bahrain and areas of Qatar after passing over Oman, where they caused deadly floods and left dozens stranded. 

Omani authorities have continued to conduct rescue operations, as more than 1,630 people were rescued and over 630 others evacuated in the last three days, Oman Observer reported. 

A child's body was recovered on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 19, emergency authorities told the official Oman News Agency

Nine schoolchildren and three adults died when their vehicles were swept away in flash floods, the news agency reported on Sunday. 

AFP and the AP also contributed to this report.