On the road for 12 hours: UAE residents struggle to get home during heavy rains

Many walked for hours on end to get to safety, however, some were not able to return home until the next day


Waad Barakat

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Published: Wed 17 Apr 2024, 7:20 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Apr 2024, 3:57 PM

On April 16, the UAE witnessed its heaviest rainfall ever recorded, resulting in a challenging situation for residents who had decided to venture out for work.

Many found themselves struggling to find a way back home. For some, the journey back took a staggering 12 hours, resorting to walking for hours. On the other hand, many others were not been able to return home until the next day.

Prasin Dave, an Indian expat, was among the residents who spent over 12 hours on the road. He encountered heavy traffic and flooding, which disrupted his usual route from his office in Al Jaddaf to his house in Al Qusais. His daily 30 minutes trip, showed a 50-minute delay, raising concerns about the possibility of flooding.

As he made his way towards Deira changing his daily routes, he encountered heavy traffic because of the flooded roads. He explained, "People began getting out of their cars to investigate the cause of the congestion. Eventually they joined forces to create a path in the middle of the traffic jam, allowing larger vehicles to make an attempt to pass through."

However, the heavy rain resumed, prompting everyone to quickly return to their vehicles. He attempted to change directions but found that all the routes he tried were flooded. Feeling frustrated, he considered going to Deira City Centre, thinking he could park his car and get something to eat. Unfortunately, the parking there had been closed off.

Prasin encountered heavy rain and darkness while searching for a hotel but found that all were fully booked. He returned to his car and drove through flooded areas, causing damage to his car. He parked on the side and witnessed other vehicles floating in the water.

After couple of hours, stranded in one location. Prasin took the risk to try different routes and directions to get home safely. With limited phone charge, and only a banana – which he shared, he finally arrived home safely, at 3.50am.

Ligin Thomas, an Indian expat, found himself caught in a harrowing ordeal on Tuesday as he attempted to make his way from Al Sajaa Industrial in Sharjah to Dubai's Al Qusais. As he set off from the office at 3.30pm, he anticipated a smooth ride home.


However, he soon encountered the first obstacle on the Sharjah airport road, where he was trapped for nearly two hours due to heavy rain. Ligin recalls, "Everybody kept honking, urging me to brave the waterlogged streets. I tried to manoeuvre through the flooded roundabout, but the vehicle succumbed to the rising waters, leaving me stranded."

Ligin faced the setback head-on and managed to drain the water from the vehicle. Realising that his planned route was inaccessible, Ligin decided to seek an alternative path. After exploring several alternatives, he had no other option. Ligin made the difficult choice to seek refuge near a mosque, where he spent the night, waiting for the skies to clear. It was not until 5am the next day that he finally managed to return home, after enduring a long and challenging journey.

When Ligin spoke to his wife on the way home, he learned that she also was unable to return to their home in Al Qusais. His wife, who works at a pharmacy in New Dubai, was offered accommodation and has gone back to work today, after replacements were unable to reach the pharmacy.

The severe weather conditions led to various individuals seeking help on social media platforms. One such example is Thomas Alexander, an Indian expat, whose son took to X to plead for help from the police and others as his diabetic father was stranded on the streets and unable to get home.

Thomas Alexander, who works in a food service company, found himself in a difficult situation as he had to be in the office due to ongoing food services. He left his office in Ras Al Khor at around 3.30pm. He took the Ras Al Khor bridge to Emirates Road to return to his home in Sharjah.

Thomas Alexander's car
Thomas Alexander's car

"I waited inside the car for almost 6 hours. As time passed, my seat started getting wet and my legs were in water for almost three hours,” said Thomas. By that time, the water level had risen, and his car had gotten flooded. Concerned about his safety and health, Thomas decided to abandon the car and walk. The water level had reached up to his shoulders as he made his way seeking refuge.

The view from his hotel room
The view from his hotel room

Thomas found a hotel nearby and decided to stay there for the night. However, the hotel had no working lifts and no food available. He walked approximately half-a-kilometre to a medical shop to obtain his necessary medicines. Describing the toughest part he said: “The water was so cold, and I was struggling to walk through it, and it was up to my chest.”

On Wednesday, the residents of Dubai continued to face challenges as they sought a way back home. Thomas considered moving to a different hotel, due to the dire conditions in the hotel he was staying at.

The drainage system seemed overwhelmed, leading to a lack of water in the toilets. With the roads still inaccessible, Thomas made the decision to remain at the hotel until the situation improved and the roads became clear for safe travel back home.

Meanwhile, Rony Banik, an account manager and Bangladesh expat, embarked on his own journey through the turbulent weather. Starting his journey at 8am from Al Raffa in Bur Dubai, Rony hoped to reach his office safely. However, as he made his way towards Sheikh Zayed Road, the rain intensified, and the streets in Business Bay quickly became flooded. With no means of returning home, Rony decided to take shelter in office.

Rony's hopes of leaving the office dwindled throughout the day. It continued to rain heavily, and the nearby metro station was flooded. Determined to make it home, Rony decided to pursue his journey on foot. Armed with his determination and shoes in hand, he ventured through the flooded streets of Satwa, desperately searching for alternate paths. After hours of relentless walking and navigating through waterlogged areas, Rony finally arrived at his destination, at 11.45pm.

Reflecting on his hazardous journey, Rony shared, "It was crazy. I walked for hours, encountering flooded roads and struggling to find a safe passage. I saw very few people along the way, mainly those who lived nearby and were also attempting to make their way home."

Rony's journey
Rony's journey

Waheed Abbas, another resident who faced the challenges of the severe weather. In the face of the electricity and internet disruption at his place in Sharjah, Waheed made a bold decision to carry on his work by walking to his cousin's home. However, this seemingly straightforward task turned into a harrowing ordeal.

“It took me over an hour to reach to my cousin's home, which was only 50 metres away,” he said. Walking in between drowned vehicles and bins, he also noticed many people standing on their balconies, filming him and other residents who dared to traverse the water.
“Many residents were forced to come out of their homes to buy groceries, but all the shops were closed because they were flooded. It was scary at a few points when I nearly slipped and drowned," he added.


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