'Apocalyptic' superstorm hits Dubai as flooding and high winds batter the Middle East

Passengers wait for their flights at the Dubai International Airport
Passengers wait for their flights at the Dubai International Airport -Credit:AFP via Getty Images

Tourists have been left stranded at the world's busiest airport for international travel due to flooding from an "apocalyptic" superstorm.

Passengers waiting for flights out of Dubai had to sleep on the floor as they waited for flights out of the country. Dozens of planes were grounded due to the weather, which has caused severe flooding across the United Arab Emirates.

As reported by the Mirror, on Tuesday more than 4.7in of rain fell before 4pm - making up the typical yearly average. The state-run WAM news agency said the heavy downpours were "a historic weather event" that surpassed anything seen since records began in 1949.

Roads surrounding the airport were seen submerged in water, with some drivers in luxury cars claiming they were "floating" their way through the carnage. Witnesses at the airport said there were no empty seats left in the waiting area, as desperate travellers hunkered down and prepared for a long night ahead.

The world's busiest air hub for international passengers confirmed a halt to arrivals at around 3.30pm GMT before announcing a "gradual resumption" more than two hours later.

-Credit:ATIF BHATTI / ESN/AFP via Getty
-Credit:ATIF BHATTI / ESN/AFP via Getty

A statement shared by Dubai Airport operators on social media read: "We advise you NOT to come to the airport, unless absolutely necessary. Flights continue to be delayed and diverted.

"Please check your flight status directly with your airline. We are working hard to recover operations as quickly as possible in very challenging conditions."

A total of 17 inbound and outbound flights were cancelled during the morning and three were diverted, Dubai Airports said in a statement. Operations at DXB were later suspended for 25 minutes on Tuesday due to an intense storm, the airport said in a statement.

People push a stranded car along a flooded street in Dubai
People push a stranded car along a flooded street in Dubai -Credit:ATIF BHATTI / ESN/AFP via Getty

Outside the walls of the airport, footage from those trapped in the wet conditions have shared video and images that resemble an apocalyptic world.

Abandoned cars have been left to gather and pile up as they remain submerged in heavily flooded roads. A handful of brave drivers battling the elements have been spotted sitting atop their roofs and waiting for rescue under the black sky.

The deep pools of water had overtaken streets lined with luxury vehicles which have been seen floating aimlessly after their drivers scrambled for escape.

A clip shared on X early on Tuesday showed entrepreneur and YouTuber Jordan Welch trapped in his Rolls Royce in Dubai as deep water flooded the road.

"My Rolls Royce got flooded and we're stuck in the middle of the road in Dubai,' he wrote. He posted in a follow-up: "Just like all my friends in crypto... today I am underwater."

The "apocalyptic" storm struck the usually dry desert city and it is now underwater - with at least 18 people killed by floods in neighbouring Oman. The United Arab Emirates has been plunged into chaos by the torrential rain, huge thunderstorms and terrifying winds bringing damage to buildings and downing power lines.

The weather has been relentless across the countries this week
The weather has been relentless across the countries this week -Credit:AFP via Getty Images

Dubai Airport said operations had been "temporarily diverted" with images showing the runway entirely underwater as several states recorded nearly a year's worth of rain in a day.

In a statement, Dubai airport said inbound flights due to arrive on Tuesday evening had been diverted "due to the continued exceptional weather event currently being experienced in the UAE". The UAE's National Centre of Meteorology issued a weather warning for large swathes of the country, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Fears are now growing for many still missing in neighbouring Oman, with the dead including 10 students aged between 10 and 15 who were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in attempted to cross a flooded area but was swept away.

Vehicles hardly move on flooded streets due to heavy rain in Dubai
Vehicles hardly move on flooded streets due to heavy rain in Dubai -Credit:Anadolu via Getty Images

Airlines including Emirates are urging passengers to arrive at the airport up to four hours before their scheduled flight time, while a tweet from Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority read: “If you’re travelling from #DXB today, be sure to allow extra time to get to the airport and use the Dubai Metro, where possible. The metro operating hours have now been extended till 3AM tonight."

A nine-year-old boy in Bahrain said: "I like to play in the rain, but for the first time it scares me." He helped his mother clear water from outside their house in Manama, the nation's capital.

"I was terrified by the sound of thunder and the sky was lit by lightning. I had never seen anything like this, so I hid with my mother... the sound of rain scared me."

The rain is connected to a larger storm system travelling down the Arabian Peninsula and moving across the Gulf of Oman, with experts saying the freak weather is caused by climate change as a result of the warming atmosphere which soaks up more moisture before like a towel, before ringing it out in the form of more extreme rainfall and resulting floods, reports CNN.

Advice from the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority includes recommending “preventive measures for heavy rain and hailstorms to minimise impacts on properties” and “parking vehicles in distant, safe and elevated locations”.

A child's body was recovered on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 18 with two people missing, emergency authorities told the official Oman News Agency. Nine schoolchildren and three adults died when their vehicles were swept away in flash floods, the news agency reported on Sunday.

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