Complex Made Simple

UAE’s rain-dance needs the right moves or risk being in hot water

Some countries like Russia try to keep the rain out, in fact once spending over $1.3 million to disperse clouds and keep them from raining on a the May 1, 2016 public holiday celebrations, according to the Independent, following $millions more spent on similar endeavors in 2015.

Countries like UAE are doing just the opposite, spending millions to bring on the clouds, and produce rain.

Remember the Indian rain dance?

While those might be wishful thinking, the UAE’s are very scientific in nature, trying to find innovative solutions for rain enhancement.


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UAE rainfall efforts

The UAE has launched an initiative that has drawn international attention for its approach to harnessing the creativity of leading researchers working in fields related to climate phenomena and water management issues.

The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science offers a $5 million grant to encourage scientists and researchers to explore new horizons in developing rain enhancement science and technology.

The Program has engaged 1,220 researchers affiliated to 520 institutions from more than 60 countries since its inception.

Meanwhile, the National Center for Meteology (NMC) has built up a strong track record in addressing technical challenges such as the collection and analysis of data on specific local cloud patterns, the selection and deployment of seeding materials for use, and identifying and tracking suitable clouds.

Omar Al Yazeedi, Director of Research, Development and Training at the NCM, explained: “Our operations have focused on towering cumuliform clouds, which are the most common rain-bearing clouds in the UAE. Naturally, there are different properties for each cloud. Based on our previous seeding operations, we estimate that cloud seeding operations can enhance rainfall by as much as 30-35% in a clean atmosphere, and by up to 10-15%   in a turbid atmosphere.”

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GCC Cloud seeding

Media reports reveal that in 2017, the UAE weather bureau has scrambled 100 cloud-seeding missions into UAE airspace using its six dedicated light twin-propeller aircraft equipped with dozens of salt-dispensing flares.

Also, the Saudi National Centre for Meteorology and Environment Protection was implementing a project to induce artificial rains by seeding moisture-heavy clouds in the southern Asir province in 2008.

We don’t want to rain on the UAE’s rain parade, but the country needs to be careful what it wishes for.

 Lack of preparedness

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are ill prepared when facing such sudden events.

In the past, UAE authorities lowered water levels in pump stations but it has not always been enough to absorb all storm waters, according to media reports.

“Certainly new structures should be built factoring in the ability to weather the worst of the UAE’s winds and rains. Private developers also have a responsibility to keep infrastructure maintained,” said media reports.

Likewise, citizens of Saudi Arabia and namely Jeddah have long decried poor infrastructure resulting in the heavy floods in the country every year.

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Economic losses

 A study prepared by Sharjah University reveals a flood disaster affecting over 1000 people is occurring nearly every year in one of the MENA countries.

The study said that flash flood of February 27th, 2010, in the central and eastern region of the UAE inundated many areas triggering loss of life and paralyzing the social and economical activity of over 5,000 peoples.

It added: “The Jeddah flood of November 2009, in Saudi Arabia, drowned over 120 people, left thousands of others homeless and thousands vehicles destroyed in the city accounting for $270 Million worth of economical damage.”

What are the UAE and Saudi doing about this?

Drainage projects

According to media reports, Dubai is set to begin the construction of its mega drainage system dubbed “the project of the century.”

Dubai Municipality, has approved AED1.3 billion ($350 million) for the implementation of the first stage of this rainwater and groundwater drainage project while the second phase of the project is under consideration for approval, which will raise the total cost of the project to AED2.5 billion ($680 million).

Meanwhile, MEED recently revealed that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund will spend in 2018 billions of dollars on projects including a seaport, roads and airports, as well as infrastructure for boats and seaplanes. Water, power, drainage and telecoms infrastructure will be installed.