Rains bring Qatar to near stand­still

Floods hit Saudi Ara­bia

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

AFP

RIYADH: Ve­hi­cles are seen sub­merged in wa­ter on a flooded high­way in western Riyadh fol­low­ing heavy rain­fall across most of Saudi Ara­bia yes­ter­day.—

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