In pics: Sandstorm blankets several Gulf countries, closing down schools and hospitalising thousands

Updated: May 18, 2022, 02:32 PM(IST)

A heavy sandstorm hit several Gulf on Wednesday, closing schools, hospitalising thousands and delaying flights. Experts believe that the situation is likely to deteriorate further in the upcoming days as climate change starts to impact regional weather patterns.

Several cities in Saudi Araba, Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq were blanketed with dust, making several iconic monuments difficult to see. 

West Asia has always been battered by dust and sandstorms, but they have become more frequent and intense in recent years.

The trend is associated with overgrazing and deforestation, overuse of river water and more dams, claim experts.

Sandstrom engulfs Dubai

This picture taken on May 18, 2022 shows a view of the haze obscuring the skyline of the Gulf emirate of Dubai with a mosque in the foreground during a heavy sandstorm.

(Photograph:AFP)

A satellite image dust storm affecting Gulf nations

In this handout satellite image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory taken on May 16, 2022, a dust storm engulfs parts of Iraq and neighbouring countries. Sandstorms across the Middle East have delayed flights, closed schools and hospitalised thousands -- a phenomenon experts say could worsen as climate change warps regional weather patterns.

(Photograph:AFP)

Bahrain

Cars drive on a main highway during a dust storm in the Bahraini capital Manama, on May 17, 2022.

(Photograph:AFP)

Tehran

A sandstorm engulfs a mosque in Iran's capital Tehran on May 17, 2022. Government offices, as well as schools and universities were announced closed in many provinces in Iran due to "unhealthy weather" conditions and sandstorms, state media reported.

(Photograph:AFP)

Iraq's holy city of Najaf

People walk down al-Rasoul street leading to the Imam Ali shrine during a sandstorm in Iraq's holy city of Najaf on May 16, 2022. Another sandstorm that descended on Iraq sent at least 2,000 people to hospital with breathing problems and led to the closure of airports, schools and public offices across the country.

(Photograph:AFP)

Sandstorm in Baghdad

A woman walks past a statue of Iraqi poet Abdel Ghani Maarouf al Rusafi during a sandstorm in Baghdad.

Iraq has experienced eight sandstorms since mid-April, fuelled by soil degradation, intense droughts and low rainfall linked to climate change.

(Photograph:Reuters)

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