A VIEW of a flooded area after a rain storm in Dubai, on Tuesday.—Reuters
A VIEW of a flooded area after a rain storm in Dubai, on Tuesday.—Reuters

DUBAI: Dubai’s major international airport began diverting all incoming flights on Tuesday as heavy rains lashed the city, causing widespread flooding.

The world’s busiest air hub for international passengers, which had been expecting more than 100 flights on Tuesday evening, earlier briefly halted its operations in the chaos caused by the storm.

Dubai has been paralysed by the torrential rain that caused floods around the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and left 18 dead in Oman on Sunday and Monday. “Due to the continued exceptional weather event currently being experienced in the UAE, Dubai International is temporarily diverting inbound flights due to arrive this evening,” a Dubai Airports spokesperson said, adding that departures will continue.

Images on social media showed planes taxiing across an apron flooded with standing water. Similar scenes were repeated across Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE as the desert country, better known for its arid climate and intense summer heat, reeled from the storm.

World’s busiest air hub in Dubai diverts flights after torrential rains and flooding

Flagship shopping centres Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates both suffered flooding and water was ankle-deep in at least one Dubai Metro station, according to images posted on social media. Roads and residential communities also suffered heavy flooding and many residents reported leaks from roofs, doors and windows.

Schools were shut across the UAE and were expected to remain closed on Wednesday, when further storms are forecast. Dubai’s government also extended remote working for its employees into Wednesday.

Some inland areas of the UAE recorded more than 80 millimetres (3.2 inches) of rain over 24 hours to 8am, approaching the annual average of about 100mm.

The weather board “urged residents to take all the precautions… and to stay away from areas of flooding and water accumulation” in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Bahrain was also hit by heavy rain and flooding after being pummelled by thunder and lightning overnight.

150 Pakistanis stranded at Al Ain Airport

Meanwhile, some 150 passengers were stranded for hours at the UAE’s Al Ain Airport on Tuesday. Their flight, Flydubai FZ-334, en route from Karachi to Dubai, was diverted due to heavy rainfall that flooded the Dubai airport, making it impossible for the aircraft to land.

A video shared by a passenger showed the extent of flooding at Dubai Airport, highlighting the severe weather conditions that led to the diversion. According to Flightradar, a real-time flight tracking service, the flight, which was supposed to land in Dubai at 12:45pm, was rerouted to Al Ain, landing there around 4pm.

Upon arrival, the situation worsened for the passengers, as they reported a lack of basic amenities at Al Ain Airport, which is smaller and less equipped than Dubai’s international hub. Passengers voiced their frustration over the absence of food, stating that neither lunch nor dinner was provided.

They said there were no accommodations available and the airport lacked sufficient dining facilities. The airline and airport authorities couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2024

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