DUBAI: Schools were ordered shut, flights suspended and the stock market was closed down in the United Arab Emirates as rare heavy rain hit the desert Gulf state yesterday. Education authorities said schools will stay closed today as more thundery weather is forecast. Flights at Abu Dhabi airport resumed yesterday afternoon after being suspended for several hours, and Dubai International also experienced delays, aviation authorities said. The rains disrupted the Abu Dhabi Air Expo held at the capital's Al-Bateen airport.
Abu Dhabi's stock market said it suspended trading and cancelled all morning deals after many traders could not reach the bourse. Images posted on social media showed vehicles half-submerged in flooded streets in Abu Dhabi and gusty winds lashing through palm trees lining the city's streets. Others showed shades and construction barriers that had collapsed on cars. In Dubai, police registered more than 250 road accidents by midday, local media reported.
The weather agency in the UAE, which ranks among the world's 10 driest countries, said more rain is expected today. The country's annual rainfall stands at 78 mm, more than 15 times less than the amount for an average year in Britain. But the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology said some 240 mm of rainfall was recorded yesterday near Al-Ain.
Social media user expressed mixed feelings about the unusual weather. "Not #london or #dublin, this is Dubai today after heavy rain!" wrote Andrea Colonnelli on Twitter posting a video of cars wading through a flooded street. Another video posted on the micro-blogging site showed a man kayaking through a flooded residential area. "2 days of rain in #Dubai, my neighbour is kayaking," read one comment. - AFP