ABU DHABI // Rain and thunderstorms that hit parts of the UAE yesterday were expected to continue last night. The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) said the inclement weather would reduce the impact of strong winds from the north-west that kicked up sandstorms late yesterday. By the afternoon winds across the country were gusting at up to 55kph, stirring up clouds of sand and dust.
In the western region, visibility was cut to as little as 500 metres, a spokesman for the NCMS said. The weather conditions prompted the centre to issue a warning to seafarers over strong winds and rough seas, with waves expected to reach eight feet high. In Abu Dhabi, the organisers of the Emirates Boat Show postponed yesterday's opening of the five-day event because of the bad weather. There were concerns over the safety, said Wael Juju, the chief executive of Knotika Holding. The show is due to open today.
Chuck Blazer, the chairman of the organising committee for the Fifa Club World Cup, said the worsening conditions had not changed plans for the start of the 11-day tournament, which kicks off today. "I think we will have to watch and see, certainly in regards to lightning - the things that are dangerous," he said. "We'll have to see what the conditions are and make decisions based on those conditions."
Yesterday's dust storms were believed to be caused by a deepening low-pressure system coming from the Red Sea in the west. By the afternoon, a layer of dust covered parked cars across the capital. In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority displayed warnings to drivers over poor visibility. "People should drive at a speed so that they are able to make a quick decision in case there is a sudden obstacle on the road," an RTA spokesman said.
Last night, light rain in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and heavier falls in the northern regions were expected to cut through the dust storms, providing relief to residents. Saad Omar, a 26-year-old Emirati, was one of many left disappointed by yesterday's dusty conditions. "The weather is supposed to be really pleasant at this time of the year and the dust just ruins it," he said. "My eyes have developed an allergy because of all the sand."
Jade Martin 27, an Australian mother of three, was anxious for the air to clear. "When there is so much sand, it makes me cough a lot," she said. At the RAK airport, visibility dropped from 5,000 metres in the morning to 1,500 metres by mid-afternoon. "For a few days we are expecting it will get worse," said Alex Cherian, the head of the airport's meteorological department. "[But] if rain comes, it will clear."