Yesterday, I woke up to an unfamiliar sound: rain tapping against the window. On the third day we had actual showers – the first time since I moved here more than a year ago – and Sunday it was an actual storm. From my bedroom, I could see the already-snarled traffic on Sheikh Zayed. (Thankfully heading into Dubai and not toward Abu Dhabi.)

Traffic on SZR

The National had a nice slide show of photos illustrating how people coped with the unusual inclement weather.

I left the house at the usual 8:45 for my commute to the paper, usually a little more than an hour. About 45 kilometers in, I stopped at the Eppco to get some fuel. But the attendants waved me on, saying the storm had disabled their system and they couldn’t pump gas. Luckily, I had enough gas to make it the 20 kilometers into Abu Dhabi and the first ADNOC. There were several drivers who didn’t and were stuck there hoping the electrical system would come back on.

Of course, the ADNOC was jam packed with drivers seeking fuel. It took me about 20 minutes just to pull up to the pump. At this point, I’m already an hour into the drive – and still have another 80 kilometers to go!

Rush hour for gas

It being largely desert and all, the UAE doesn’t get a lot of rainfall as you can imagine. Over the weekend into Sunday we got more rain than any December since they’ve been counting. Nothing is built here to deal with water in this way. Not much drainage. Even the windows in my brand-new apartment building were leaking from what was, by most standards, a pretty standard rainshower.

There isn’t any soil to absorb the water and with all of the construction around here, there’s a lot of “impervious cover.” The road from Dubai and Abu Dhabi was washed out in several places. And some cars had to wait it out. But, once again, I thought to myself how ironic that for most of my driving life in Texas, never needed an SUV. But it sure has been handy having one in the UAE! It took me a full two hours to get to the paper.

Fording a stream near Yas Island

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