Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Dubai announces R10.7 billion for families to repair storm damage, says lessons ‘learned’

Submerged cars after heavy rainfall in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, on 17 April  2024. (Anadolu via Getty Images)


Submerged cars after heavy rainfall in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, on 17 April 2024. (Anadolu via Getty Images)

  • The UAE will spend the equivalent of R10.7 billion to help repair homes damaged by last week’s storm.
  • Oman and Dubai were in the path of rains that dumped two years’ worth of rain on the UAE.
  • The country says it has learnt from the unprecedented experience. 

The United Arab Emirates announced $544 million – the equivalent of R10.7 billion – to repair the homes of Emirati families on Wednesday after last week’s record rains caused widespread flooding and brought the oil-rich Gulf state to a standstill.

“We learned great lessons in dealing with severe rains,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum after a cabinet meeting, adding that ministers approved “two billion dirhams to deal with damage to the homes of citizens”.

Wednesday’s announcement comes more than a week after the unprecedented deluge lashed the desert country, turning streets into rivers and hobbling Dubai airport, the world’s busiest for international passengers.

“A ministerial committee was assigned to follow up on this file… and disburse compensation in cooperation with the rest of the federal and local authorities,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, which was one of the worst hit of the UAE’s seven sheikhdoms.

The rainfall, the UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago, killed at least four people, including three Filipino workers and one Emirati. UAE authorities have not released an official toll.

Cabinet ministers also formed a second committee to log infrastructure damage and propose solutions, Sheikh Mohammed said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“The situation was unprecedented in its severity but we are a country that learns from every experience,” he said.

Climatologist Friederike Otto, a specialist in assessing the role of global warming on extreme weather events, told AFP it was “high likely” that the rainfall “was made heavier by human-caused climate change”.

‘Unacceptable’

The storm first landed in Oman on 14 April, where it killed at least 21 people, according to the official Oman News Agency.

It then battered the UAE, dumping up to two years’ worth of rain on the federal monarchy with a 90% expatriate population before subsiding last Wednesday.

But the glam-hub of Dubai, touted as a picture-perfect city, faced severe disruption for days later, with water-clogged roads and flooded homes.

Dubai airport cancelled 2 155 flights, diverted 115 and did not return to full capacity until Tuesday.

“We must acknowledge… that there has been an unreasonable and unacceptable deficiency and collapse in services and crisis management,” prominent Emirati analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla said on X.

“We hope that this will not be repeated in the future,” he added, in a rare public rebuke.

Dubai is now mostly back to its normal pace, with public transport fully functioning and all major roads open to traffic.

But for Matthew Faddy, a 56-year-old Brit who lives in the UAE’s business hub, total recovery is still days away.

His ground-floor apartment located near a lake was flooded last week, with the water breaching a half-metre wall in his garden.

“Finally, the water has come down substantially but it (was) only really yesterday that it started to come down,” he told AFP on Wednesday.

“At its worst, the water was nearly chest-high in the apartment and now, from what I can see…it’s probably below the knee, at shin height,” said Faddy, a music composer and sound designer.

“I think it will probably be another week before the water is gone.”