Muscat: The thick orange haze that had blanketed Saudi Arabia on Wednesday moved eastwards and severely reduced visibility to less than a kilometre in some wilayats in Oman on Thursday. Directorate-General of Meteorology denied sand storm in the Sultanate and said that “the dust is just passing through our local atmosphere and will stay during the next 24 hours”.
Motorists in Musandam, Ibri, Buraimi, Sohar, Liwa and Madha found driving difficult due to strong winds and dust in the air. On Wednesday night, Muscat also witnessed dust waves. leaving behind a film of sand on cars and other outdoor surfaces.
After strong winds, Saudi Arabia sounded the alarm and called upon hospital and medical personnel to stand by to handle emergencies. Schools were also closed. In UAE, temperature dropped from 40 degrees Celsius to 30. Most of Dubai landmarks were covered in dust and visibility in some places touched zero. The sand storm caused flights delay in Dubai airports on Thursday. “Bad weather conditions persisting across the Gulf region since morning have affected normal operations at Dubai International and Al Maktoum International” Dubai Airports, which operates both facilities, said in a statement.
In a later emailed statement, Dubai Airports said it had re-routed some flights during the day to Al Maktoum, Dubai’s second airport that mainly handles cargo, and was working with all airlines to minimise disruption.
Flights into the international airport in neighbouring Abu Dhabi from Dammam, Muscat, Bahrain, Ras Al Khaimah and Mumbai during the morning were either delayed or cancelled, according to the flight status page on the airport’s website.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation said in a statement late on Wednesday that flights from Riyadh, Dammam, Qassim and Hafr al Batin had either been delayed or rescheduled due to the sandstorm. Operations returned to normal on Thursday, it said. A Qatar Airways spokesman reported minor disruption to some of its flights at Doha’s Hamad International Airport on Thursday morning.
Bahrain Airport’s flight schedule showed some cancelled and delayed regional flights operated by Gulf Air, with few other disruptions.
SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER