Travellers in Dubai are facing delays after the United Arab Emirates was hit by the heaviest rain ever recorded in the desert nation.

The deluge flooded Dubai International Airport, disrupting flights through the world’s busiest hub for international travel. The state-run WAM news agency called Tuesday’s rain “a historic weather event” that surpassed “anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949”.

The rain, which also fell in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, began late on Monday, soaking the sands and roads of Dubai with some 0.8in (20mm) of rain, according to meteorological data collected at Dubai International Airport. The storms intensified at around 9am local time on Tuesday and continued throughout the day, dumping more rain and hail on the overwhelmed city.

By the end of Tuesday, more than 5.6in (142mm) of rain had soaked Dubai over 24 hours. An average year sees 3.7in (94.7mm) of rain at Dubai International Airport, a hub for the long-haul carrier Emirates, which also flies in and out of Newcastle International Airport.

At the Dubai airport, standing water lapped on taxiways as aircraft landed. Arrivals were halted on Tuesday night, and passengers struggled to reach terminals through the floodwater covering surrounding roads.

On Wednesday morning, people were being asked not to come to Dubai airport unless “absolutely necessary”. Flights were being delayed or diverted and passengers were being urged to contact their airlines to check their flight status.

Dubai International Airport said on social media: “We advise you NOT to come to the airport, unless absolutely necessary. Flights continue to be delayed and diverted. Please check your flight status directly with your airline. We are working hard to recover operations as quickly as possible in very challenging conditions.”

Meanwhile, Emirates said it was suspending check-in for passengers at Dubai airport. The airline stated: “Emirates is suspending check-in for passengers departing @DXB from 8:00am on 17 April until midnight, due to operational challenges caused by bad weather and road conditions.

“Affected customers can contact their booking agent or visit for rebooking. Passengers arriving in Dubai and already in transit will continue to be processed for their flights. Customers can expect delays to departures and arrivals, and are advised to check the latest flight schedules on

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused. Emirates is working hard to restore our scheduled operations, and our teams will provide all possible support to affected customers.”

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