NEW DELHI: Heavy thunderstorms swept across the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, leading to significant flooding in Dubai, with the desert city-state receiving over a year and a half’s worth of rainfall in just a few hours. This intense weather event disrupted major highways and operations at Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports for international travel.
Meteorological reports indicate that approximately 20 millimeters (0.79 inches) of rain drenched Dubai late Monday, with the storm intensifying around 9am on Tuesday.By day’s end, the city had accumulated more than 142 millimeters (5.59 inches) of rain. Typically, Dubai experiences an average annual rainfall of 94.7 millimeters (3.73 inches) at its international airport.
Families stranded at airport
The scenes inside the terminal were chaotic, with reports of some people being turned away due to overcrowding.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) experienced what some described as Biblical levels of flooding and apocalyptic scenes as more than 4.7 inches of rain fell before 4 pm, matching the typical yearly average. Roads around the airport were submerged, and wealthy drivers in luxury cars were seen ‘floating’ through the flooded streets, according to witness accounts.
“Some reports suggested people were being turned away from the terminal, such was the level of overcrowding inside as hundreds of travelers looked to escape the chaos,” a spokesperson said.

Metro services disrupted
On the streets, police and emergency vehicles navigated through the waterlogged avenues, with emergency lights reflecting off the flooded surfaces. Even the iconic Burj Khalifa witnessed lightning strikes against its structure amidst the chaotic weather.
The city’s driverless Metro system faced disruptions, and several stations were reported to be flooded, affecting daily commutes. Schools across the UAE preemptively closed, and remote work was instituted for government employees, with many private sector workers also opting to stay home.
Authorities were forced to deploy tanker trucks to pump out water from inundated streets and highways. Residential areas were not spared, as some homes experienced significant water ingress, prompting residents to undertake emergency measures to protect their properties.
Despite the extensive disruptions, the UAE’s hereditary rulers have not yet provided an overall assessment of the damage or reported any injuries. However, in the northern emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, a tragic incident was reported where a 70-year-old man died after his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters.

The neighboring Sultanate of Oman also experienced severe weather, with the death toll rising to 18 due to the heavy rains. Among the casualties were 10 schoolchildren and an adult, swept away while traveling in a vehicle. This has prompted expressions of condolence from across the region.
The authorities have announced the continuation of remote schooling and work for Wednesday as the region braces for further weather disturbances.
This unusual weather event highlights the challenges faced by regions typically unaccustomed to such heavy rainfall, particularly in infrastructure preparedness and emergency response mechanisms.
(With inputs from agencies)

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