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Dubai’s disaster: There are lessons to learn

Dubai’s disaster: There are lessons to learn

Dubai has money, technology and entrepreneurship which most other cities do not have, but it has been beaten by nature.

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Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 22:52 IST
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 22:52 IST
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The unprecedented rainfall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which wreaked havoc and caused high damage, may have been more a man-made event than a freak weather incident. Dubai received 254 mm of rain, which is equivalent to 18 months’ rainfall in the region, in a single day. It was the biggest precipitation in its recorded weather history from 1949. It triggered massive flooding in the airport, considered to be among the best in the world, after runways were inundated. Flights were disrupted, schools were closed, and normal life went topsy-turvy. Cars were swept away, power supply was disrupted, people were stranded at workplaces or on the roads. The losses amount to billions of dollars. The absence of a proper drainage system accentuated the problems. Such a high rainfall in the arid Gulf region has raised questions and given rise to theories, most of which point to human intervention with nature and its consequences.

Dubai has wanted to become a marvel among the world’s cities and seen relentless building activity. It has created architectural wonders in the form of high-rises, motorways, airports and enterprises, all in a period of a few years. It was a case of too many things being done too fast without paying attention to all details. Building of an effective drainage system was neglected because it was thought that it would not be needed in a rain-scarce region. There was no provision in many areas for the rainwater to run off or percolate into the earth. It has been suggested that the excessive rainfall may be a consequence of cloudseeding, a practice which has been frequently resorted to in the region. The UAE has rejected the suggestion that there was cloudseeding before the rains occurred, and experts have not found any credible link between the two. The El Nino phenomenon has also been blamed. According to many experts, the unique atmospheric conditions that produced the deluge may have been the result of climate change. 

Extreme climate events which have become common in most parts of the world have been linked to climate change. Many of them have been adverse events like rain in arid regions and drought in rainy regions. Rajasthan’s desert areas have seen cyclonic floods and places with monsoon plenitude have seen erratic rainfall. Many experts have held that when it rains, it rains stronger in conditions of global warming. So the Dubai disaster should be taken as yet another reminder of the need to act fast on climate change. Dubai has money, technology and entrepreneurship which most other cities do not have, but it has been beaten by nature.

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