x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Freak winds cause chaos in Dubai

A sudden strong squall sends beach-goers scurrying for shelter as towels and other possessions are sent tumbling.

A tree in front of the Zabeel Palace was uprooted by strong winds in Dubai on Nov 15 2008.
A tree in front of the Zabeel Palace was uprooted by strong winds in Dubai on Nov 15 2008.

DUBAI // Beach-goers scurried for shelter yesterday as high winds battered the coast. Hundreds of people were enjoying a day by the sea when the wind whipped up sand and sent towels and other possessions tumbling down the beach. "It was pretty chaotic," said Alphonsus McGuinness, who was spending the day at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. "We were sitting on the beach having lunch and the next minute it was like a huge storm had come in and was blowing everything around.

"People were running everywhere trying to get their stuff and get inside. I'd say the winds were close to gale force and there was loads of sand in the air. The staff all had to run out to try and tie everything down because there was so much stuff getting blown around." Monique Robinson, who was also at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, said: "We were sitting outside near the Burj al Arab, and someone said they thought a storm was coming and we should move inside, but I didn't really think anything of it. Then, suddenly there were surfboards flying about and tables being blown over. I even saw boats getting pushed up on to the beach. I've never experienced anything like it in Dubai. You could see clouds rolling in really fast."

Matt Harding, who lives in the marina, said the wind raised so much sand and dust that he could no longer see the Palm Islands from his balcony. "The doors started banging and I thought my laundry was going to blow over the side," he said. "It was surprising how fast it came up. One minute I had a beautiful clear view across the water, and the next all I can see was haze." The duty forecaster at the Dubai Meteorological Office said the wind was the tail end of a thunderstorm at sea.

"The wind was just passing by and dissipating. It is not something that would last very long," he said. gmcclenaghan@thenational.ae