Dubai Faces Unprecedented Rainfall and Floods

Dubai: A "historic weather event" was seen in the desert country of United Arab Emirates (UAE), as its main city Dubai, known for its luxurious shopping and picturesque skyscrapers, witnessed some of the most heaviest rainfall ever recorded after a deluge flooded out the Dubai International Airport, flooding roadways and buildings. This is unprecedented as the Arab country usually receives low rainfall due to demographic challenges, meaning that it received one of its highest rainfall in the past seven decades!

Image Source : REUTERS

However, the floods in Dubai provided a unique opportunity for desi social media users to draw parallels to the city of Mumbai, which has gained notoriety as one of the worst flood-affected areas in India and provides harrowing visuals of floods sweeping colonies and buildings every year. Looking at the ongoing situation in Dubai, many called out UAE's 'poor management' as roads lay submerged and suggested they took lessons from how Mumbai handles rains.

"Looking at the Dubai rains, my respect increased for Mumbai’s BMC management," wrote one user. "This was Dubai yesterday, the swankiest and most planned metro brought to knees with few hours of rain. Imagine if this had happened in Mumbai or Pune. Everyone would be cursing the government from bottom of their hearts," another netizen chipped in.

Another user on X wrote, "dubai feels like mumbai minus the traffic". A netizen said, "Dubai goes underwater with flooding caused by just 120mm rain? Mumbai routinely has 200mm plus days". However, several users highlighted that Dubai does not expect such heavy rains, unlike Mumbai, and officials in the Indian city need to make more preparations to prevent floodings. "Dubai was not built for such heavy rains - rains that would flood most cities. A better analogy would be if it suddenly snowed heavily in Bombay, which was obviously not built to handle snow at all. Would people in snowy Oslo mock Bombay?" said a user.

"This event, at most, can be termed as a freak event for Dubai. They've never had such a high amount of rainfall. Comparing their current drainage system with a city such as Mumbai which has regular rainfall every year is not justified," said another user. "Dubai is not designed to handle rains. While Mumbai is (supposedly) capable of handling rains," said a netizen.

What caused the 'freak' rains in Dubai? 

Usually, the desert region receives 3.12 inches of rainfall annually. This means the city received rainfall worth two years within a day. According to the weather department, Dubai typically receives just 0.13 inches of rain during the month of April. In fact, the local news agency asserted that the rains were “a historic weather event” that surpassed “anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949".

The ongoing chaos in Dubai, where shopping malls, roads, metro stations, airports and residential areas, saw a dramatic situation. People all around the city were seen taking desperate actions to reach home. At the airports, several airlines have cancelled their flight operations, citing bad weather situations.

One reason may have been “cloud seeding,” in which small planes flown by the government go through clouds burning special salt flares. Those flares can increase precipitation. Since 1982, the UAE has been using cloud seeding technology, which is also known as artificial rain. This was taken to new heights by the UAE's Rain Enhancement Program (UAEREP), managed by the Emirates' National Centre of Meteorology (NCM).

Although the city has marvellous infrastructure that attracts millions of tourists around the globe, it lacks a proper drainage system. The main reason behind the insufficiency lies in the history. The city received very little rainfall, which resulted in the administration overlooking the situation. This prompts waterlogging on roads and other high-profile regions.

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