Sandstorm blankets several Middle Eastern countries

From northern Syria to Iraq through Saudi Arabia, a sandstorm reached the UAE lands, whose government on Wednesday warned the residents of its danger, especially as it caused about nine casualties in northern Syria and caused closures and hospitalizations in other areas.

Standstorms that have been going on for days have disrupted flights, closed schools, and brought thousands of people to hospitals in different parts of the Middle East, in a phenomenon that is likely to get worse in the coming years.

The severe weather caused by the strong winds, known as Shamal winds in the Gulf, has led many governments to take proactive measures. 

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Residents posted pictures and videos on social media showing dust and lack of vision, even World’s tallest building Burj Khalifa in Dubai was not visible.

On Wednesday, the UAE authorities issued a warning of dust storms and urged residents to remain vigilant as the Gulf state is exposed to a storm, like other countries in the region, which has caused closures and hospitalizations.

Dust and lack of visibility have fallen on Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran, in an interrelated phenomenon that experts attribute to climate change, lack of rain and desertification.

In Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday evening, the state-run Al-Ekhbariya channel reported that the emergency departments of hospitals and health care centers in Riyadh had received “1285 people with respiratory diseases caused by exposure to the dust waves that swept the capital.”

Layers of yellow sand covered buildings, cars parked in the streets and furniture of homes, while the smell of dirt overwhelmed the air.

Bahrain was affected by a wave of suspended dust, on Tuesday, and the extent of horizontal visibility decreased, and Bahraini meteorologists called for caution and avoidance of external or marine activities, and the reserve of travellers by land through highways.

Iraq witnessed the brunt of the storms this week, when it landed on Monday, the eighth dust storm since mid-April. More than 5,000 people were treated in hospitals for breathing problems and the storm led to the closure of airports, schools and public offices across the country.

In Syria, the unprecedented sandstorm, accompanied by strong winds, began on Sunday, May 15, and left nine people dead, including a father and son, two children, a woman and three other men. Dozens were injured, while hundreds suffocated due to the intensity of the storm.

The ministries of health in the aforementioned countries published tips and instructions on dealing with the dust wave, including wearing a mask to avoid dust entering the respiratory system, washing the nose, mouth and eyes frequently, and avoiding rubbing the eyes so as not to be exposed to infections.

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