A 10-hour rainstorm that deluged Dubai with 150mm of rain in just one hour has brought the emirate to a standstill with mass disruption on roads, public transit and at Dubai International Airport (DXB). In a statement, the airport operator confirmed DXB was experiencing “operational disruptions” following the heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding earlier on Saturday.
“… flight delays are expected to continue through the day with some cancellations and diversions to Dubai World Central (DWC),” a spokesperson for the airport said in a statement. “We are working closely with our service partners to get back to full operations as soon as possible,” the statement continued.
Social media was inundated with photos of flooded roads, submerged cars and impassable highways. Several tunnels along the iconic Sheikh Zayed Road were completely submerged as emergency crews struggled to pump out the rainwater, shining a light on inadequate infrastructure capable of dealing with such weather events.
A National Center of Meteorology official confirmed to the Gulf Times that they had carried out five ‘cloud seeding’ missions on Friday night, telling the newspaper that the UAE would be affected by “unstable conditions” for several days.
Several photos have also emerged of large swathes of the airfield at Dubai International Airport also completely under water. Some passengers on delayed flights took to Twitter complaining they had been stuck on board plane’s for several hours without moving due to the delays.
— Lethal Scorpion (@LethalScorpion2) January 11, 2020
Stuck at Dubai airport. All Emirates flights cancelled/delayed today due to a morning of unexpected rains. People waiting in huge lines to get accommodations, boarding passes and figuring out how to proceed next. pic.twitter.com/6AAn4eu4XX
— Juvs R (@juvs06) January 11, 2020
Social media posts showed throngs of people packed into Terminal 3 and lining up at Emirates’ connections desks. The airline warned of disruptions to “several” flights, although the arrivals board at DXB suggested this was an underestimate of the true scale of the disruption.
Experts say the average rainfall for the entire month of January is just 10mm. Further rain is expected on Saturday night and into Sunday morning but not nearly to the extent as was witnessed in the early hours of Saturday.
Dubai Airport’s advised people to allow “significant” extra time to get to the airport due to the delays on the roads. A similar situation was witnessed in Abu Dhabi, approximately a one hour drive from Dubai.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.