The United Arab Emirates (UAE) National Meteorological Center confirmed on April 17 that the country experienced the heaviest rainfall recorded since 1949. From the 14th to the 17th of April, heavy rain in multiple areas of Oman triggered floods, resulting in at least 19 deaths. Due to the continuous rainfall and subsequent floods, Oman has reported at least 19 fatalities, while one person has died in the northern part of the UAE.

Data reveals staggering rainfall amounts within a 24-hour period: 254.8 millimeters in the Al Ain region of the UAE and 142 millimeters in Dubai. The latter even exceeds the rainfall for an entire year. Social media images depict the impact of this intense rainfall, with roads washed away, planes navigating through water, and cars submerged by floods.


Other Gulf countries, including Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, have also been affected. Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, faced a double blow of dust storms and storms. On the evening of April 17, the UAE’s Ministry of Interior announced that the rain had ceased, and local residents were gradually recovering their daily lives.

Considering historical data, both the UAE and Oman typically receive an average annual precipitation of less than 100 millimeters. This prompts us to reflect on how the recent deluge in several Middle Eastern countries unfolded.

According to local media reports, one person in the northern part of the UAE was swept away by flash floods and died. Meanwhile, in Oman, due to continuous heavy rainfall from the 14th to the 17th, flash floods occurred in multiple areas, resulting in at least 19 fatalities.

Dr. Mohammed Mahmoud, Director of the Climate and Water Program at the Middle East Research Institute, explained in an interview with NBD, "This is a consequence of the growing influence of climate change. Higher temperatures (last year being the hottest on record) in an already prone to being hot region like the Middle East, translates to warmer oceans, which then produce extreme weather that results in significant rainfall and flooding.

From deserts to wetlands, from droughts to floods, climate change is reshaping the climate patterns of the Middle East in unprecedented ways. 

Traditionally, we see these types of storms at the end of the summer season and the start of the fall (such as the hurricane season in the US/Atlantic), Mohammed Mahmoud added. This major weather event is seasonally out of the norm, likely a consequence of the record-breaking months, in terms of heat, the world has experienced since the summer of last year. It is expected that more storms of this nature can and will occur in the summer and fall season of this year.

When asked whether the Middle East will experience more frequent extreme rainfall in the future, Dr. Mahmoud responded affirmatively. He explained that the ongoing impact of climate change, coupled with limited mitigation or adaptation measures, will continue to drive up average global and regional temperatures. "This situation increases the likelihood of such extreme weather events."

Dr. Mahmoud also emphasized that Coastal areas around the world closer to the equator will likely experience more intense and frequent storms and rainfall events up to the extremes of hurricanes and cyclones that cause major floods. Such as the Pacific coast of the US and Mexico and the Caribbean. Even places where these types of storms are uncommon, like the mediterranean, may see an uptick on their occurence.

Editor: Alexander