Flooding in the UAE in 2024 - current situation

2024-06-08
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In early 2024, the United Arab Emirates experienced unusually heavy downpours resulting in widespread flooding in various regions of the country. This phenomenon, rare in the arid climate of the UAE, caused severe damage to infrastructure, flooding of homes and roads, and interruption of the normal flow of life for many people. The article provides an overview of the situation caused by the floods, including the measures taken by the government to deal with the disaster, as well as the current state of affairs in the affected areas. Possible reasons for the increase in rainfall intensity and future projections in the context of climate change and its impact on the region are also discussed.

What happened: hurricane and flood in Dubai 2024

In 2024, Dubai faces an unprecedented hurricane and widespread flooding. Normally, the region has only five rainy days a year, falling during the winter months and bringing around 100mm of rainfall. However, changes in the global climate and unexpected meteorological events can significantly alter these statistics. This is exactly what happened on April 15-16, 2024, when one of the world's most arid zones received an extremely high amount of rainfall, causing real flooding.

Official figures show that the sustained rainfall of more than ten hours broke the record set in 1949. In that short time, Dubai received as much rainfall as it normally receives in a year, about 100 mm. In addition, the city was hit by a strong hurricane that felled trees. As a result, streets, some basements and first floors were flooded, schools were closed and nearly 1,500 airline flights were canceled. At least four people were killed as a result of the disaster.

This incident can be characterized as an exceptional climate event. In what follows, we will examine how prepared the Emirate was for such extreme rainfall and what factors contributed to the flooding.

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Causes of the flooding in Dubai

Dubai experienced unprecedented flooding caused by the heaviest downpour in 75 years. The event has spawned many theories about its causes, including speculation of human intervention through weather modification techniques such as cloud seeding.

Cloud seeding is a process in which special substances (such as silver iodide or potassium iodide) are injected into the atmosphere to encourage precipitation. This method has been actively used in the UAE since the 1990s, with 311 such operations in 2022 alone.

However, most scientists and meteorologists agree that the flooding was caused by a powerful storm that captured tropical moisture and brought it into the Persian Gulf, causing intense rainfall over the region. The primary cause of such large-scale storms, surpassing all previous storms in nearly a century, is an increase in the temperature of the atmosphere, which improves its ability to hold moisture. This rise in temperature is often attributed to global warming.

As for the unpreparedness of local infrastructure for such extreme conditions, it is important to emphasize that such a downpour is a rarity for Dubai, unlike, for example, annual snowfalls in Russia. After all, the annual norm of precipitation fell in a matter of hours, for which the local utility systems, adapted to the arid climate, were unprepared.

After this event, it is expected that Dubai will develop new, more modern water drainage systems. However, the question remains whether these systems will be able to effectively cope with such natural disasters in the future.

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The aftermath of the flooding in Dubai

The streets of Dubai were strewn with debris and overturned cars after the water receded as a result of unprecedented flooding. Images of the devastation quickly spread across the internet and found themselves on the pages of the world's leading media outlets, giving the impression of a post-apocalyptic landscape. While some of the photos may have dramatized the situation, the impact of the disaster was felt keenly.

Flooding in Dubai: which real estate developers coped the best

According to preliminary calculations, the economic damage from the flood and the accompanying hurricane is estimated at billions of dirhams. For a rich emirate such losses are tangible, but, according to local analysts, given the scale of the disaster, the city's infrastructure withstood the test decently. Most of the residential premises remained intact, although basements and some lobbies were damaged. However, measures to restore access to entrance halls were taken quickly, while pumping water out of basements took longer.

Despite severe damage in some areas, many residential complexes remained largely unaffected. Developers Wasl, SRG Holding, MBAL, and Sobha were particularly successful in dealing with the situation. Here is a brief overview of each of them to understand who these players in the real estate market are:

  • Wasl. This company, founded in 2008 after the merger of the Dubai Development Board and the Department of Real Estate, aims to elevate Dubai's status as a global hub for tourism and living. They have over 47,000 residences in their portfolio.
  • SRG Holding. A family business with a history dating back to the 1950s at Dubai Creek. Engaged in residential and commercial development, property management, hospitality and investments.
  • MBAL. Founded by Sheikh Mustafa, the company focuses on construction and investment with an emphasis on sustainability. Over the decades, they have completed many significant projects in Dubai and beyond.
  • Sobha. Has been in existence since 1976 and has completed more than 130 million square meters of projects. They are known for their premium complexes in the UAE and other countries.

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These companies have not only coped with the aftermath of the floods, but have also demonstrated the highest standards in construction and property management, which is likely to strengthen their position in the post-disaster market.

Conclusion

Floods are not a common occurrence for Dubai. However, natural disasters can occur in any part of the world, especially against the backdrop of the increasing effects of global warming. A distinctive feature of the UAE is its ability to recover quickly from such events. The very next day after the onset of heavy rains, water drainage was restored to many buildings, and within a few days air travel was back to normal.

No one can be fully protected from unexpected natural disasters. However, there are places where even in moments of crisis one can feel protected. Dubai definitely belongs to such cities. Choosing real estate from developers who have performed well during the crisis can greatly reduce the worry about your property.

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