Gulf doused by unprecedented summer downpours

The flooding, which is hitting the UAE's Fujairah especially hard due to infrastructure limitations, is being attributed to climate change.

 General view of flood water following a day of heavy rain in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, July 28, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/ABDEL HADI RAMAHI)
General view of flood water following a day of heavy rain in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, July 28, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ABDEL HADI RAMAHI)

Five of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries witnessed heavy rainfall last month, something the arid region has not seen in July for at least three decades, and which experts attribute to climate change.

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During the past two weeks, heavy rains fell, starting in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain, and finally Saudi Arabia, but they did not reach Kuwait.

The unusual weather led to flooding in several areas. The worst was in Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, where water reached very high levels and several places were flooded. The army engaged in rescue operations.

The affected regions in the Gulf states saw difficulties in movement and affected residents will receive compensation payments.

The infrastructure in these countries is not designed to handle large amounts of rain.

 General view of flood water following a day of heavy rain in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, July 28, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/ABDEL HADI RAMAHI) General view of flood water following a day of heavy rain in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, July 28, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/ABDEL HADI RAMAHI)

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai, ordered the formation of rescue teams and inventory of damages for the citizens of Fujairah, while similar teams were formed to inventory the damage caused by rain and flooding in other Gulf countries.

The inclement weather caused a significant drop in temperatures for several days in the Gulf countries, where temperatures reached 30° Celsius (86° Fahrenheit) for the first time in history during the month of July, when temperatures often reach 50° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit).

“The amount of rain that fell on Fujairah, UAE, amounted to 220 mm [8.7 inches], which is an unprecedented rate. Even in winter, such an amount did not fall there in the past."

Omar Abdulaziz, a professor of applied physics,

Prof. Waheeb Alnasser, chairman of the Bahrain Astronomical Society, told The Media Line, “The level of rain in Bahrain is about 20 mm [0.8 inches].

“We are witnessing sharp fluctuations in the atmosphere, especially with climate change in the world,” he added. “It is not possible to predict what will happen next, but in any case, the rain is welcome.”

The Saudi National Center for Meteorology released a statement on Monday saying that “the rains in the Eastern Province and Riyadh are unusual in summer but a recurrence is possible.

“The rainy weather that affected the central and eastern regions of the kingdom is one of the ‘unusual’ rainy conditions [occasionally experienced] in this period of the summer. Climatic records from the manned monitoring stations of the National Center for Meteorology have recorded varying amounts of rain during the months of July and August in the cities of the central and eastern regions since 1993,” the Center for Meteorology continued. “The highest in the city of Al-Ahsa [aka Al-Hofuf] reached 19 mm [0.75 inches] in 1993, while the amount of rain in the capital on Sunday, July 31, 2022, amounted to 26.6 mm [1.05 inches].

“We do not rule out the recurrence of the rainy weather during the coming period, in light of climatic changes and severe weather phenomena that are affecting the world and the region,” the center stressed.

The impact of climate change

Omar Abdulaziz, a professor of applied physics, told The Media Line, “Global warming is a major reason for such a phenomenon. We have not seen rain in the Gulf countries previously in the summer except in some mountainous areas.

“The amount of rain that fell on Fujairah, UAE, amounted to 220 mm [8.7 inches], which is an unprecedented rate. Even in winter, such an amount did not fall there in the past,” Abdulaziz added.

“The climate, due to global warming conditions and significant changes in the environment, has become unexpected. In Bahrain, the winter was not very rainy, but we witnessed rain in the summer,” he said.

“Maybe we will see summer rain again, whether this year or next year and even in the coming years, and I expect that the coming winter will be rainy,” Abdulaziz said.