Saudi Arabia: When it rains in Riyadh, it pours

It's raining in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and Twitter users and bloggers are using the opportunity to cover the ‘chaos’, and complain about their local Press.

At Khaled Rambles, Khaled A. writes:

It’s raining heavily in Riyadh at the moment and everyone twitter has agreed to use the following twitter hashtag #RiyadhRain. Since the old media has failed covering this.

EchoDepiction gives us a thorough description here of how it started:

As I am typing this I can hear ambulances in the distance and helicopters flying overhead.   Around 2 o’clock this afternoon,  a very strong rainstorm began its downpour in Riyadh.  As the clouds became more condensed and all sunshine disappeared from the sky making day appear to be night, rain began to pour down rapidly while very strong winds blew sand, trash, trees, and anything it could carry into the streets.  Parents and children leaving school were stranded in the rain and shielding their heads and eyes with scarves, umbrellas, and plastic sacks.

Soon enough:

Within minutes, rain water was running down the roads and into drains in a river-like fashion.  To give you an idea of how strong the wind was,  my car was being moved by it at a stoplight!  Driving past Tamimi supermarkets,  shopping carts and water bottles were rolling down the road.  The first downpour  continued for  at least 20-30 minutes non-stop.

As for damages, EchoDepiction reports:

It has been reported that Al-Faisaliah Tower’s garage has been flooded and one man was trapped down there and drowned.   There have been more than 23 accidents on the Eastern and Northern ring roads, and Korais road going south, as well as exits 9 -11, has been closed.  Several homes and shops have been destroyed from the rain in Dariyyah, Akik, and Ra’id neighborhoods and nearby areas.

The blogger concludes:

People have been warned to remain at home as a stronger rainstorm is expected within the next few hours.   Just turn on the T.V.  The roads have become RIVERS!  Some people are swimming; others are helping direct traffic with a grin on their faces.  Although some people are suffering from this rain, MANY are loving this unusual chaos.  I have never seen Riyadh like this before!

Ebrahim H., meanwhile, posts photographs of the ‘chaos’ here. He also contemplates:

I am still wondering what would happen if Riyadh was Rio De Janeiro, and these corrupted contractors  implemented their projects just similarly to these in Saudi? Disaster!

Rio De Janerio was brought here as a comparison example because Brazil is considered as a third world country similarly to Saudi.

And Little Pink Strawberries also posts photographs of flooded roads and other rain damage and remarks:

Sadly though Riyadh is not equipped for rain what so ever. Anytime it rains you see cars tore up all over the place and the streets are flooded. The city has no drainage system what so ever.

She adds:

So today as the rain started pouring so did my house. Yes I am flooded as we speak. Rain started pouring in from the windows and the air conditioners. I threw blankets, towels, clothing and everything I had to stop it but nothing worked. It was just pouring in like crazy from all the rooms. My furniture is sitting in water. also writes about the storm saying:

This afternoon, as I’m writing this, there are rains and strong winds. I can barely see the outside from my office window. But from what I can see, the streets also have remnants of hail – hailstones being swept away by rain water flowing like a river on the streets. The winds as they blow, sound like howling.

If this is not freakish weather then I think this is the result of  changing weather patterns.

Meantime, the underpasses quickly became flooded and traffic promptly got snarled. I can hear a lot of horns being honked.

Moving on to Twitter, a dedicated hashtag, #RiyadhRain, to cover the rain and comment on it was started. They also have a logo:

The Riyadh Rain Logo

The caption [Ar] reads:

Our hearts are with you, our relatives, the people of Riyadh!

Abdulelah Al-Sabban, who tweets @Lubbaz, comments:

بانتظار جرائد الغد باحر من الجمر .. ليس شماته ولكن لنرئ الحقائق كما هي هنا في تويتر .. #RiyadhRain
I am eagerly waiting for tomorrow's newspapers to see whether they portray the facts like they are here on Twitter #RiyadhRain

In a follow up tweet, he writes:

استمرار انقطاع الكهرباء على مناطق متعددة من الاحياء السكنية بالرياض .. #RiyadhRain
Electricity cuts continue in different neighbourhoods in Riyadh #RiyadhRain

And Rami Taibah announces:

I hereby announce the old gaurd of Saudi media is dead. Twitter's coverage of #RiyadhRain trounces anything on TV & probably tomorrow's NP

And last but not least, Ismaeil posts those pictures, showing the traffic and floods – including entire cars immersed in water – on Picasa and de.caf posts more pictures on Flickr here.


  • Laura

    It started raining, it was really heavy rain and a hail storm with thick hail dropping down at full speed. We were not allowed out of our classrooms and our transport had arrived late anyway, It was humid and slightly foggy at about 3:15-3:25 pm. When everybody was ready to go to the bus we drove off but really slowly due to so much traffic. Everywhere we went more rain, more thunder and more wind, there was too much traffic and we could see that a lot of construction sights had been damaged as well as private villas and local houses and schools had been damaged, therefore. Due to so much traffic and flood we could not move the bus and had to go in and out through the spacious streets looking for some alternative to get home. We had to drive on dirt, in the middle of nowhere, near industrial construction sights and had to go over footpaths to take u-turns it was a very disturbing time. It was very dangerous as I had could see a few accidents there and then after an hour or so with ambulances coming towards them. It was horrible, with all the panic, noise and no drainage systems, and my advice to the government would be that they make new drainage systems when they have all the money in the world. As for the businessess that took orders such as pizza hut or Mcdonalds most probably could not have run their business due to the traffic and get to their hungry and eager customers. I had been stuck in traffic for 3 hours and then reached home when I should have reached home from school in half an hour. I was exhausted by the time I got home thinking about those terrible obstacles I had to go through e.g. traffic and bearing to look at nearby accidents. Especially teenagers should have been warned not to drive on that day since they are not rain skilled drivers and it is unsafe for them and drivers and the community around them.

  • Truths are never hiding anymore !

    We are rid of the mainstream media that has no business but to kill its own people by hiding mere truths. Indeed, it is a tragedy !

    Thanks for your post..

  • Great coverage Amira! I am in the Rawdah neighborhood. The storm was really exciting and scary at the same time. The noise was so loud that I thought it was a tornado at first (it was hail). My son almost cried. There was a little school bus that had pulled over and parked outside of our window. It was rocking back and forth and the kids inside were screaming and crying. My husband said a dumpster almost crashed into his car because the winds were so strong and moving things. He tried to go to work directly after the storm and had to come back home because his usual routes were blocked: there was a felled street lamp and the underpass on King Abdullah Road was totally flooded. I had no idea there was such chaos outside until I saw the pictures. I have only lived in Riyadh for 3 1/2 years but I have never seen anything like this storm today!

  • […] Saudi Arabia: When it rains in Riyadh, it pours By Amira Al Hussaini · Posted 3 May 2010  Print version […]

  • reem

    Today my father is trapped in the rain.
    He is on exit 3 now 11:45 pm ,he is on roads from 11 ‘o’clock .
    He started from exit 8 and now on exit 4. till he is not at home.we are praying and waiting for him.
    from 12 hours he is on blocked roads due to heavy rain riyadh.
    He had not taken his madicines of blood pressure and sugar etc… from 6 hours…
    we are just praying…
    We are in contact with him on mobile
    he is saying that just 1 kilometre I am covering in one hour…

  • reem

    12 hours ago my father is at road.
    he is a patient of blood pressure and sugar and not yet taken madicines fom 6 hours.
    he is covering 1 kilometre in 1 hour…
    roads are floating…
    We are in contact with him on mobile…

  • Hani

    Amira, chapeau for your article. You are the first to report this unfortunate disaster. I have been living in Riyadh for 10 years and I have to admit it’s the first time I got scared while on the road!
    I pray for the persons that left this life, and the people still struggling out there. I pray that Reem father will make it safely.

  • […] op Global Voices Online: Saudi Arabia: When it rains in Riyadh, it pours [en] Door Amira Al Hussaini · Vertaald door Percy Balemans · Vertaling geplaatst […]

  • […] A round up of various blog post on the floods can be found at Global Voices. […]

  • tk

    so what will happen are we going tommorrow to schools or not??????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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