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Dubai airport re-opens after UAE suffers heavy rain

Dubai Airport

Operations at Dubai International Airport remain severely disrupted after heavy rains battered the United Arab Emirates and neighbouring countries.

The storm pounded the UAE on Tuesday, flooding roads and the sections of the busy international airport.

Flash floods have now killed 20 people in Oman and one in the UAE.

Some inbound flights have resumed on Thursday, but on the whole Dubai international airport, a major travel hub, is struggling to function.

Authorities at the world’s second-busiest airport said on Thursday that they had started receiving inbound flights at Terminal 1, used by foreign carriers, but that outbound flights continue to be delayed.

They later announced that check-in was open at Terminal 3 for Emirates – the single largest carrier at the airport, and flydubai flights.

But they warned that a large number of travellers were waiting to check in and long delays were expected.

Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, early on Thursday, officials urged people to go to the airport only if they have confirmed bookings.

Getty Images
Officials urged people to travel to the airport only if they had confirmed bookings
The head of Dubai airport, Paul Griffiths, said: “It remains an incredibly challenging time. In living memory, I don’t think anyone has ever seen conditions like it.”

The surrounding roads remain gridlocked because of overcrowding with people trying to reach the airport.

On Wednesday, about 300 flights were cancelled and hundreds more were delayed.

The UAE recorded its heaviest rainfall in recorded history. Up to 259.5mm (10.2in) of rain fell on the usually arid country on Tuesday.

The state-run news agency called the rain “a historic weather event” that surpassed “anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949”.

Anne Wing, a British tourist who was with her husband and three children hoping to fly to London Heathrow, said: “It’s horrific, we are squashed in like animals – it is dangerous and inhumane.”

She added: “Passengers were shouting and rioting at the connection desk, there were no staff to be seen.”

She said her family had not eaten since lunchtime, and all that had been provided were some “small cartons of water”.

Airport authorities say that the staff are facing difficulties to get food to stranded passengers as all the roads leading to the airport are blocked by flood waters.

As many road closures are still in place, some motorists remain trapped in vehicles or stranded on the roadside due to the rising water levels around them.

Al Arabiya TV reported that in Ras al-Khaimah a 70-year-old man died after his vehicle was swept away by strong current.

Emergency services worked to clear the waterlogged roads on Thursday to assess people trapped in traffic, offices and homes.

The main road that connects Dubai with Abu Dhabi – the capital of the UAE – was closed in the Abu Dhabi direction.

Many stranded passengers at Dubai airport have taken to social media, urging for more information.

Other “very anxious” and disoriented passengers, some travelling with young children, have posted that despite confirmed booking, their tickets are not being processed, because “check-in/bag drop/passport control [are] not open.”

The airport, which last year served more than 80 million passengers, second only to Atlanta in the United States, warned recovery would take “some time”.

Getty Images
Submerged cars on a flooded highway in Dubai

Roads to hard-hit communities and facilities remain flooded and footage on social media showed dozens of submerged vehicles and long traffic jams. Most supermarkets and shopping malls also remain closed, and home delivery services are largely out of action.

Although the UAE reportedly had sunny spells on Thursday, authorities have warned that more thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds were forecast in the region. In Oman, more than 1,400 people have been evacuated to shelters, while schools and government offices have been closed.

 

The UAE’s president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered a review of the country’s infrastructure impacted by the severe weather. He asked authorities to assess the damage and provide support to affected families, including transferring them to safe locations.

Videos online nevertheless showed people wading through floodwater to reach their abandoned cars to check if they would start.

In a conciliatory message on X, Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said: “Crises reveal the strength of countries and societies… and the natural climate crisis that we experienced showed great care, awareness, cohesion and love for every corner of the country from all its citizens and residents.”

 

 

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