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Dubai rainstorm: “Great lessons learned,” says the UAE; announces $544 mn for repairs

Dubai rainstorm: “Great lessons learned,” says the UAE; announces $544 mn for repairs

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: A week after Dubai was devastated by unprecedented rains, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has allocated USD 544 million for rain-related repair works for Emirati people in the desert city which is still trying to get over the enormity of the natural disaster that affected a large area the size of France.

“We learned great lessons in dealing with severe rains,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum after a cabinet meeting, adding that ministers approved “two billion dirhams to deal with damage to the homes of citizens.”

The record rains on April 16 caused widespread flooding and brought the oil-rich Gulf state to a standstill.

Wednesday’s announcement came over a week after the unprecedented deluge lashed the desert country, turning streets into rivers and hobbling Dubai Airport, the world’s busiest for international passengers.

“A ministerial committee was assigned to follow up on this file… and disburse compensation in cooperation with the rest of the federal and local authorities,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, which was one of the worst hit of the seven sheikhdoms that came together in 1971 to form the UAE.

The rainfall, the UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago, killed at least four people, including three Filipino workers and one Emirati. The UAE authorities, however, did not release an official toll, the media reported.

Cabinet ministers also formed a second committee to log infrastructure damage and propose solutions, Sheikh Mohammed said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“The situation was unprecedented in its severity but we are a country that learns from every experience,” he said.

According to climatologist Friederike Otto, who specializes in assessing the role of global warming on extreme weather events, it was “highly likely” that the rainfall “was made heavier by human-caused climate change”.

The storm first landed in Oman, where it killed at least 21 people, according to the official Oman News Agency.

It then battered the UAE, dumping up to two years’ worth of rain on the federal monarchy with a 90 percent expatriate population before subsiding last Wednesday.

But the glam hub of Dubai touted as a picture-perfect city, faced severe disruption for days thereafter, with water-clogged roads and flooded homes.

Dubai Airport canceled 2,155 flights, diverted 115, and did not return to full capacity until Tuesday.

“We must acknowledge… that there has been an unreasonable and unacceptable deficiency and collapse in services and crisis management,” prominent Emirati analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla wrote on X.

“We hope that this will not be repeated in the future,” he added, in a rare public rebuke.

Dubai is now mostly back to its normal pace, with public transport fully functioning and all major roads open to traffic, according to the reports.

After the unprecedented flash floods, which paralyzed the desert city of Dubai in the UAE and brought life to a grinding halt, Emirates Airlines apologized to the stranded passengers for the inconvenience and promised to return their 30,000 suitcases at the earliest.

Hundreds of flights were grounded and thousands of customers were stranded at Dubai International Airport after the historic rainstorm that assaulted the region after 75 years, the media reported.

Emirates CEO Tim Clark issued an apology on the company’s website to customers over the weekend: “I would like to offer our most sincere apologies to every customer who has had their travel plans disrupted during this time.”

Emirates on Wednesday last week urged travelers not to come to the airport, except in emergencies It also suspended check-ins for those meant to fly out of Dubai, put an embargo on ticket sales, and halted connecting flights from other cities to Dubai, leaving some passengers stuck around the world.

The CEO wrote that the airline “sent over 100 employee volunteers to look after disrupted customers at Dubai Airport departures and in the transit area, prioritizing medical cases, the elderly, and other vulnerable travelers.”

He added that over 12,000 hotel rooms were provided for customers in Dubai, as well as 250,000 meal vouchers issued.


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