Rains bring Qatar to near standstill
Floods hit Saudi Arabia
DOHA: Qatar was hit by more than a year’s worth of rain in several hours, while in neighboring Saudi Arabia one person was killed during flooding yesterday. Roads in Doha were blocked as overnight rain made many near impassable for commuters. Schools and malls closed as the rain even forced the US embassy in Qatar to shut down. Worst hit seemed to be the area around Doha’s Hamad International Airport, where almost 80 mm of rain fell, according to the Qatar Meteorology
Department, causing reports on social media of leaks at the estimated $17 billion building, which opened just last year. However, Hamad International said that flights were operating normally, despite the weather conditions.
The World Bank calculates that Qatar receives, on average, 74 mm of rain each year. The US embassy said that the weather had forced it to shut yesterday and the offices would not open again until next week. “Due to inclement weather, the US Embassy in #Qatar will be closed today,” it said on Twitter. The rainwater flooded streets and shut down some stores and malls in Doha. Local media reported some schools and daycare centers closed early because of the downpour. At 4 pm, the temperature was a cool 24 degrees Celsius.
The interior ministry pleaded for drivers to take care in the rainy conditions. Ashgal, the public works authority, denied rumors that the rain had caused structural problems at a major Doha intersection. Football World Cup 2022 host Qatar is well-known for its fierce summer temperatures, which will force the tournament to be played instead in November and December. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, schools were closed for a second day as rain continued to fall on Riyadh, flooding some streets and forcing drivers to abandon their cars. About 10 cars were submerged under about two metres of water in a highway underpass in the Labban district on the capital’s western outskirts, an AFP photographer reported. Workers were trying to drain the floodwaters into tanker trucks as a light rain fell from gloomy skies.
The Civil Defence agency reported that 72 vehicles had been rescued in the Riyadh region with their occupants unharmed. One person died in Rimah, northeast of the city, the agency said. Roads in the city centre were unaffected, although traffic moved along the main King Fahd Road even more slowly than usual. Some side streets were partly flooded elsewhere in the desert city of 5.7 million, which is dry and sunny for most of the year. Other parts of the kingdom have also been soaked this week. At least eight people died in flooding last week in the Madinah and Jeddah areas of western Saudi Arabia.
In Dubai, clouds darkened the skies and rain fell across parts of the city and elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates. At Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, the temperature stood at 22 C at 4 pm.
RIYADH: Vehicles are seen submerged in water on a flooded highway in western Riyadh following heavy rainfall across most of Saudi Arabia yesterday.—