'Cars floating like corks': Dubai tourist recalls 17-hour gruelling road journey as torrential rains hit UAE

A Good Samaritan offered him a ride to Bur Dubai for free, declining Sahni's attempt to offer payment


Mazhar Farooqui

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Photo: Reuters (Image used for illustrative purposes)
Photo: Reuters (Image used for illustrative purposes)

Published: Thu 18 Apr 2024, 7:42 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Apr 2024, 10:53 PM

Tales of altruism have surfaced in the aftermath of the unprecedented floods that swept Dubai.

Neal Sahni, a British businessman, was stranded at Dubai Mall past midnight after Metro services were disrupted due to the floods. Sahni, who had relied on the Metro to commute from Dubai Marina to an early lunch meeting at DIFC, faced a daunting challenge in finding transportation amidst the chaos.

With no taxis in sight, he walked down to the adjoining Kempinski Central Avenue, formerly known as Address Dubai Mall, hoping to find one there. Despite the lack of available rooms, the staff offered what assistance they could. However, unable to secure accommodation, Sahni ventured back out into the night, only to encounter a man demanding an exorbitant fee to take him to his hotel, Grosvenor House, in Dubai Marina.

Agreeing to the steep fee out of necessity, Sahni and seven others squeezed into an SUV arranged by the agent. Their journey, however, was cut short as the vehicle broke down due overheating, sparing Sahni from parting with his money.

Neal Sahni
Neal Sahni

Stranded in Oud Metha, Sahni found himself even further from his destination due to a detour prompted by road closures. Sahni began a futile search for accommodation, only to find every hotel he approached fully booked. Witnessing the surreal scene of flooded streets, Sahni was reminded of the floods he had experienced in Mumbai.

"Many cars were floating in the waters like corks," he recalled.

A Good Samaritan offered him a ride to Bur Dubai for free, declining Sahni's attempt to offer payment. Disembarking at a hotel in Al Jaddaf, Sahni's hopes were dashed once again as the hotel had no vacancies.

Eventually, Sahni found himself outside the hotel at 2.30am, where he met a man who offered him a ride. "He demanded Dh300 to drop me off in Marina, which was still far less compared to the amount demanded earlier," Sahni said. However, Sahni faced a new dilemma as the man had two other passengers in the car and intended to drop them off at Dubai Airports first. With no alternative, Sahni agreed.

At the airport, the driver picked up another passenger, a woman who needed to go to Al Barsha. Sahni marvelled at the driver's determination as they navigated through the waterlogged roads. "Along Al Khail Road, past the Hessa exit, the floodwaters reached up to the car bonnets, causing many vehicles to stop," Sahni recounted. However, undeterred, the driver pressed on, as if guided by a special force.

Finally, after a gruelling journey, Sahni arrived at Grosvenor House around 5am. The nearly 17-hour ordeal, involving three different cars, had come to an end.


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