Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

UAE president orders review after flooding

  • Sheikh Mohamed acts after historic rainfall
  • UAE had heaviest rain in 75 years
  • Airports struggling to cope

The UAE’s president, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has ordered an urgent review of the country’s infrastructure after historic levels of rainfall brought the Gulf state to a standstill, with some areas seeing more than a year’s worth of rain in one day.

The president has contacted authorities “to quickly work on studying the condition of infrastructure throughout the UAE”, the state-owned Wam news agency reported.

On Tuesday the UAE experienced its heaviest rains in 75 years. The downpour turned main roads, particularly in Dubai, into waterways, leaving motorists stranded and causing widespread damage to commercial and residential properties.



Experts have called for investment to combat flooding.

“The major urban areas of the UAE are coastal and on flat topography, so that ocean drainage may have limited effect during intense rainfall coupled with sea surges,” Mohammed Mahmoud, water resource management and climate change adaptation expert, told AGBI.

Dubai International Airport, the busiest international airport in the world, continues to suffer from severe disruption with limited access to its Terminal 1 on Thursday.

“Due to crowding, access to Terminal 1 is now strictly limited to passengers with confirmed departures,” a statement said.

In 2021 work was completed on the $2.5 billion Deep Tunnel Storm Water System – a 10km tunnel measuring 11 metres in diameter, built 45 metres under the city in the southern area of the emirate, near the Expo 2020 site.

The tunnel drains stormwater from 40 percent of the city and is part of the UAE’s wider investment plan.

Dr. Hassam Chaudhry, associate professor at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, said: “As the country continues to experience rapid urbanisation and potential shifts in weather patterns due to climate change, having efficient and large-scale stormwater management systems has become essential, and opens doors for further projects.”

The National Centre of Meteorology said that 254mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours in the Khatm Al Shakla area in Al Ain. The UAE’s average annual rainfall is 140 to 200mm.

In January 2020, after another round of extreme rainfall, the government pledged AED500 million ($136 million) of new investment to safeguard the country’s infrastructure from the effects of flooding.

Traffic stuck on a flooded road in Dubai Reuters/Rula Rouhana
Traffic stuck on a flooded road in Dubai

Ruchir Punjabi, co-founder of Distributed Energy and renewables.org, said: “If any government understands infrastructure, it’s the UAE. It’s almost certain that they are thinking about how to upgrade the infrastructure for situations like this.

“These transformations are really, really expensive. You cannot do an overnight swap of a drainage system, for example. It’s really, really difficult. What you can do is, you make it part of new or redevelopment plans, and you build a transition.”

Research in the US by the National Centers for Environmental Information found that flooding costs an average of $4.7 billion in damage per event.

Householders in the UAE are counting the cost of the flooding as the huge clean-up operation continues, although Neeraj Gupta, CEO of Policybazaar UAE, said home insurance is still not common in the country.

“Weather events such as the unprecedented rains we saw this week act as a catalyst towards users trying to understand the need for the same,” he said.

The UAE president called on support to be provided to people affected by the flooding, ordering the transfer of affected families to safe locations in cooperation with local authorities.

Latest articles

Tourism to contribute $64bn to UAE’s economy in 2024

The tourism sector’s contribution to the UAE’s economy is expected to reach AED236 billion ($64 billion) in 2024, accounting for 12 percent of the overall GDP, a senior government official has said.  The sector contributed AED220 billion to the GDP last year, accounting for almost 12 percent of the overall economy, Khaled Al Midfa, chairman of Sharjah […]

Helmet, Adult, Male

Saudi Aramco’s $10bn share sale slated for next month

Saudi Aramco’s anticipated share sale is expected to take place next month, according to a media report. The offering is projected to raise nearly $10 billion and will be listed on the local stock exchange, Reuters reported, citing unnamed informed sources.  The sources said details may still change, but the process continues. In September 2023, […]

Indoors, Restaurant, Cafeteria

Hong Kong’s airport lounge operator targets Saudi expansion

Hong Kong’s airport lounge operator, Plaza Premium Group (PPG), has earmarked $100 million to expand across the Middle East, focusing on Saudi Arabia. The regional expansion is part of its three-year $300 million global expansion plan. The funds will be allocated to opening lounges, establishing an airport concierge service with white-glove service, opening innovative dining outlets and exploring […]

Russians Turkey Istanbul Bridge

Russians rush from Turkey as costs and restrictions bite

Rising costs, increased difficulties in obtaining residency permits and tighter enforcement of restrictions on the number of foreign nationals who can live in popular regions are prompting an exodus of Russian citizens from Turkey.  The number of Russian nationals holding Turkish residence permits has plunged to just over 96,000 as of May 16, down from […]