Riyadh Floods!

4 May

We had some really serious rain yesterday afternoon. Serious as in…phone your family and find out if they are in a safe place before you do anything else kind if rainfall. Unlike most other countries, heavy rainfall or a really bad sandstorm are often cause for alarm. The primary reason for concern is if you are on the roads at the time. Saudi Arabia must be right up there as one of the most dangerous places to drive in the world. I can promise you that whatever you may think of South African taxi drivers, they are kind, safe and polite road users compared to most drivers in  Gulf countries. It can be a  struggle to stay alive on the roads when it is dry so imagine the danger in the wet. Rain combined with dust lying on the road surfaces make for very slippery and dangerous conditions.

The problem also lies in the fact that Saudi, like many Gulf countries, does not have a drainage system to cope with heavy rains as they happen so seldom. Yesterday all the underpasses on the highways flooded and cars were unable to get through so people promptly turned their vehicles around and drove back down the highway in the opposite direction to the oncoming traffic! People took hours to get home from work and all schools are shut today as mop up operations are taking place. Helicopters flew overhead all afternoon and the sounds of hooting and sirens lasted long into the night.

In our little compound, the ground floor of the staff accommodation flooded and the staff had to use the fire escape to get out of the building. I spotted Clifford, who works in the compound restaurant, wrapped in a towel brushing his teeth on the roof this morning. He gave us a wave as Luka and I waded through the water observing the aftermath.

The water evaporates fast in the heat and was already down considerably when I took these photo’s. It was a little wild but added some excitement to life in the Land of Sand.

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