Dubai’s sluggish return to ‘normality’: Planes gradually hit runways again but cars remain stranded in water as the city struggles to get to grips with flooding crisis

Dubai’s sluggish return to ‘normality’: Planes gradually hit runways again but cars remain stranded in water as the city struggles to get to grips with flooding crisis

  • Emirates, Dubai’s state-owned airline, and flydubai have resumed check-ins 

Dubai is making a sluggish return to normality as planes gradually begin to hit runways again, but cars have remained stranded in deep waters as the city struggles to get to grips with the recent flooding crisis.

This week’s devastating flash floods, which have now killed 20 people in Oman and one in the UAE, plunged Dubai into a living nightmare as shops and buildings were crushed to ruins and vehicles were forced to be abandoned as they became submerged in murky waters.

Emirates, Dubai’s state-owned flagship airline, and sister carrier flydubai resumed check-ins after telling passengers to stay away on Wednesday, when thousands of delayed passengers clogged the airport.

Authorities at Dubai International Airport, which handles more international passengers than any other, said on Thursday that they had started receiving inbound flights at Terminal 1, used by foreign carriers, but that outbound flights continued to be delayed.

They later announced that check-in was open at Terminal 3 for Emirates and flydubai flights.

A man carries luggage through floodwater caused by floods as Dubai International Airport resumes flights

Vehicles were left abandoned after the flash floods hit, and remain drowned in water

Passengers are now more free to come and go from Dubai International Airport as several flights have been resumed (picture from April 17)

Passengers check flight information on screens at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday

Footage from inside the airport - the world's busiest for international travel - showed passengers sleeping on the floor as they waited for flights out of the country, after dozens were grounded following torrential rain

Some reports suggested people were being turned away from the terminal, such was the level of overcrowding inside as hundreds of travellers looked to escape the chaos

The airport hopes to resume ‘something approaching normality’ within 24 hours, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told AFP. 

Some 1,244 flights were cancelled and 41 diverted on Tuesday and Wednesday, after torrential rains flooded the Middle East financial centre including its homes, malls and offices, and highways.

Over the past three days, the airport has witnessed chaotic scenes with crowds of marooned travellers clamouring for information about their flights.

At the start of the floods, footage and images taken by stranded travellers showed people camping out on the airport waiting room floors as they were desperate for shelter from the harsh, freak weather.

Hundreds of passengers complained they were not allowed to leave the building due to the dangers of the flooding as the waters crashed past the airport carrying cars and other debris swept off the streets.

Even as Emirates and flydubai resumed check-ins, more than 200 departures were listed as delayed or cancelled on the airport’s website.

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. 

‘Getting supplies through, people and all of the necessary things to the airport to help the schedule recover, was a massive challenge because all of the roads were blocked,’ Griffiths said.

Roads have been blocked by the extreme levels of water, meaning the airport is unable to receive deliveries of food and other necessities for the passengers stranded at the airport

Lorries were left submerged in the flood waters

A man is seen wading through the water

Recent images show locals rowing around as a means of navigating through the underwater city

Shops and buildings have also been left battered by the heavy floods

‘We just hope that the level of customer care that we’ve been able to provide will go some way to mitigate the impacts that we had to customers. 

‘But obviously we’re deeply distressed by all of the disruption and concern that we’ve created,’ he added.

As flights to and from the city return to some level of normalcy, schools and public sector offices have remained closed until next week.  

Traffic congestion remained severe on Thursday, two days after the storms, with at least one major road completely blocked by water and multiple junctions cut off by flooding.

Recent images of the devastation from yesterday show vehicles still drowning in the deluge.

Some vehicles were completely submerged, with the top of their roofs barely breaking the water’s surface.

People have been spotted rowing around the city in small inflatable boats as they attempt to navigate the immense levels of water.

Main roads have been pictured sinking in the murky depths while those patient enough try to slowly make their way through the area.  

Shops and businesses are slowly opening two days on from the flooding as a mass clean up operation continues. 

Climate experts say the rains, the UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago, are consistent with changes caused by global warming.

A man walks past flooded roads after heavy rainfall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 18 April 2024

Countless vehicles have been abandoned by their owners as they fled for safety amid the horror floods

By the end of Tuesday, more than 5.59 inches of rainfall had soaked Dubai over 24 hours

The storms intensified at around 9am local time on Tuesday and continued throughout the day, dumping more rain and hail onto the overwhelmed city.

By the end of Tuesday, more than 5.59 inches of rainfall had soaked Dubai over 24 hours.

An average year sees 3.73 inches of rain.

An elderly Emirati man in his 70s died yesterday morning when his vehicle was caught in flash floods in the Ras Al Khaimah emirate, in the country’s north. 

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

Although the UAE reportedly had moments of sunshine 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.

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.’

Taryn Pedler

Leave a Reply