There are reports that Yemen’s Houthi rebels have carried out a drone attack in Abu Dhabi. Three fuel tankers have reportedly been targeted and unverified video from the emirate showed a large plume of smoke rising into the sky.
Abu Dhabi police said in a statement that three fuel tanker trucks exploded in the industrial Musaffah area of the city which is close to a facility belonging to oil company ADNOC. A separate fire has been reported at a construction site at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).
“Preliminary investigations indicate the detection of small flying objects, possibly belonging to drones, that fell in the two areas and may have caused the explosion and fire. The competent authorities were sent and the fire is being dealt with,” the police force said in a statement published by the official WAM news agency.
The statement continued: “The competent authorities have launched an extensive investigation into the cause of the fire and the circumstances surrounding it, and there are no significant damages resulting from the two accidents.”
A spokesperson later confirmed that three people had been killed and six others have been injured. The cause of the fires has not yet been determined.
Etihad Airways, which is based at Abu Dhabi airport said a “small number” of flights were delayed as a result of the incident.
In an emailed statement, the airline told us: “Following an incident in the construction area of Abu Dhabi Airport earlier this morning, precautionary measures resulted in a short disruption for a small number of flights. However, normal airport operations were quickly resumed.
“The safety and comfort of our guests and crew is our number one priority,” a spokesperson said.
Houthi rebels have carried out a number of attacks using large military-style drones against Saudi Arabian targets. In February 2021, a civilian commercial aircraft operated by Saudi low-cost operator Flyadeal suffered damage after explosive-laden drones targeted Abha International Airport close to the border with Yemen.
In 2019, Houthi rebels used drones and cruise missiles in an attack on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that knocked out almost half the Kingdom’s oil production capabilities. Saudi Arabia blames Iran for supplying the Houthis with the military firepower capable of carrying out these attacks.
A drone strike against Abu Dhabi would be incredibly hard but the Houthis have repeatedly indicated their desire to strike the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In 2018, the terror group claimed they had carried out a successful strike against Abu Dhabi International Airport but officials in the UAE denied any attack took place. At the time, the airport said in a tweet that there had been an unspecified ‘incident’ involving a supply vehicle but that operations continued as usual.
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.