Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued a rare ‘Red Alert’ earlier this week for a massive sandstorm that prompted officials to urge residents to stay indoors until the wild weather had passed.
At its peak, the sandstorm was so intense that visibility in some parts dropped to less than 500 metres. Drivers were told to take extra care on Dubai’s notoriously dangerous roads as the storm passed through the emirate.
Dubai International Airport (DXB) managed to keep operating but passengers were warned they could face severe days and a spokesperson for Dubai Airports confirmed that at least 44 flights were cancelled between Sunday afternoon and the early hours of Monday morning.
A further 12 flights that were inbound to DXB were forced to divert to Dubai World Central (DWC) to the south of Dubai’s sprawling centre.
“Dubai Airports can confirm that operations at Dubai International (DXB) are currently recovering to normal following the extensive weather delays in the region over the past two days,” a spokesperson explains after thousands of passengers were caught up in the disruption.
“We are working closely with airlines and other service partners to restore normal operations at the earliest and to ensure that inconvenience to our customers is minimised,” a statement from the airline continued, although a spokesperson urged passengers to continue to check the status of their flights with their airlines.
The National Centre of Meteorology has since downgraded its most serious weather alert but a warning remained in force throughout Monday with a risk that visibility could be reduced to 2,000 metres.
Dust and sand is just part and parcel of living in Dubai but serious sandstorms like those on Sunday and Monday, or what is portrayed in Hollywood movies like Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol are a rare event.
As well as dangerous sandstorms, the UAE has also been battling life-threatening floods from heavy rainfall. At the end of July, seven people were killed after heavy rains fell in the northern Emirates.
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.