TOWIE stars Joey Essex and James Argent forced to hitchhike after becoming stranded in Dubai floods

The Only Way Is Essex stars Joey Essex and James Argent have been forced to hitchhike after becoming stranded in Dubai floods sparked by record rainfall.

Essex, 33, said the pair had "decided to hitchhike after hours of trying to get back home" in an Instagram story posted on Tuesday evening.

In uploaded videos, the reality TV stars are seen standing and walking barefoot in ankle-deep water after what the state-run WAM news agency called a "historic weather event" in which more rain fell than in any other weather event since records began in 1949.

Argent, 36, - also known as Arg - is seen standing next to a flooded road with his hand stuck out in front of him, as Essex said: "Hitchhiking, we have no choice."

Essex also uploaded a clip of him walking along the street pavement, part of which had seemingly collapsed, as a car tried to make its way across a flooded road.

The caption said: "After hours of looking for a taxi and hitchhiking on the streets of Dubai. We have now decided to take the next step... operation survival."

In the next video Essex was seen holding his shoes as he walked along the streets barefoot, with the water around his ankles.

Footage of him crossing a flooded street was posted with a fitting song - Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet.

The pair were among UK passengers planning to travel via Dubai International Airport, whose flights were disrupted by standing water on taxiways at the world's busiest hub for international travel.

Emirates cancelled seven flights between the UAE and the UK, with British Airways diverting or axing four and passengers advised to stay away.

Many flights were delayed by several hours on Tuesday, including an Emirates flight which landed at Heathrow more than five hours late.

Heavy rainstorms hit the city late on Monday, dropping nearly 2.5cm (1in) of rain, according to meteorological data collected at the airport.

Conditions intensified from around 9am local time on Tuesday and by the end of the day more than 15cm (6ins) of rainfall had soaked Dubai over the course of 24 hours.

Cloud seeding

Many roads in the UAE lack drainage given the lack of regular rainfall, which is unusual in the UAE, an arid, Arabian Peninsula nation, but occurs periodically during the cooler winter months.

Earlier media reports linked the extreme weather to "cloud seeding", in which small planes flown by the government go through clouds burning special salt flares, which can increase precipitation.

The UAE, which relies heavily on energy-hungry desalination plants to provide water, carries out cloud seeding in part to increase its dwindling, limited groundwater.

But Professor Maarten Ambaum, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said there was "no technology in existence that can create or even severely modify this kind of rainfall event".

"These storms appear to be the result of a mesoscale convective system - a series of medium-sized thunderstorms caused by massive thunderclouds, formed as heat draws moisture up into the atmosphere," he said.

"These can create large amounts of rain, and when they occur over a wide area and one after another, can lead to seriously heavy downpours. They can rapidly lead to surface water floods, as we have seen in places such as Dubai airport."

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He said "intense rainfall events" could be made more "more extreme due to climate change", with a warmer atmosphere able to hold more water vapour.

Professor Ambaum added: "The UAE does have an operational cloud seeding programme to enhance the rainfall in this arid part of the world, however, there is no technology in existence that can create or even severely modify this kind of rainfall event.

"Furthermore, no cloud seeding operations have taken place in this area recently."

Schools across the UAE, which largely shut ahead of the storm, remained closed on Wednesday and the government ordered staff to continue working from home.

Rain also fell in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and separate heavy flooding has taken place in Oman in recent days.