Two ballistic missiles were intercepted close to Abu Dhabi on Monday morning according to the UAE’s state-run news agency. The attempted attack comes precisely a week after several missiles and drones targeted an oil storage facility in Abu Dhabi in an attack that killed three people and injured six others. A ‘small fire’ also affected a construction site at Abu Dhabi’s International Airport.
The Ministry of Defence for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) blamed Yemen’s Houthi rebels for the attack. The same terrorist group claimed responsibility for last week’s attack on Abu Dhabi.
“The ministry confirmed that there were no casualties resulting from the attack, as the fragments of the ballistic missiles fell in different areas around the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence commented.
Air traffic over Abu Dhabi appears to have been temporarily halted during the attack with several flights, including Etihad Airways flight EY269 put into a holding pattern before being cleared to land. State-run newspaper The National said reports that Abu Dhabi airport was forced to close were “entirely false”.
The UAE is protected by a sophisticated but secretive missile defence system that is capable of quickly detecting and downing ballistic missiles. An unverified video posted to Twitter appeared to show the system in action as flashes were seen above the sky of Abu Dhabi at around 4:15 am.
The system appears to have partially failed during the January 17 attack but has been hailed with successfully protecting the UAE in other attempted attacks that were downplayed at the time.
The Houthi rebels are known for attempting to hit critical infrastructure sites in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In 2019, a drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi Aramco’s facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais knocked out almost half the Kingdom’s oil production capabilities.
Airport facilities have also been hit and 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 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.
According to the Wilson Center, the Houthi’s are backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who could be providing the group with military arms. Iran has consistently downplayed or dismissed the claims.
The UAE became involved in a Saudi-led military campaign against the Houthi’s after the Zaydi Shiite movement started a way against Yemen’s Sunni-majority government.
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.