Passengers complain Dubai’s airport were ‘running out of food’ after freak storm

Stranded passengers at Dubai’s airports have said they are “running out of food,” as the United Arab Emirates struggles to recover after a freak storm dumped a year and half’s rain in just hours.

At least 20 people have died in the intense weather event from earlier this week that also affected Oman.

Unused to torrential rain, streets were flooded, buildings were damaged and shops and business were forced to close in the Gulf states.

Air travel has been hard hit, particularly at Dubai International Airport, the world’s second busiest air hub and the home of Emirates which has multiple daily departures to Australia.

Planes taxi through water after extreme flooding in Dubai

That airport’s operator declared it was facing “very challenging conditions,” with startling images of its runways underwater.

On Wednesday around 290 flights to and from Dubai were cancelled while as many as 440 further flights were delayed.

Emirates suspended check in services at Dubai airport on Tuesday only reopening desks on Thursday morning. But it warned travellers should only come to the airport if it was confirmed that their flight would actually be departing.

“While some customers have been able to return home or reach their destination, we are aware that many are still waiting to get on flights,” the airline said.

Emirates is the fifth biggest airline when it comes to international airline seats to and from Australia and has a longstanding partnership with Qantas.


The airport chaos has not only led to passengers being stranded for days at the airport but also a lack of food while there.

Restaurants and take away outlets that would normally be open have struggled to keep shelves stocked, get supplies in or staff the retail units.

A couple returning to the UK from a wedding in Sydney, who were diverted to another Dubai airport, told the BBC they didn’t know how to get home or when they would eat properly again.

“The restaurants are closed,” James Devine, 30, from Cambridge in England’s east, said.

“The only food we have is from duty free so it’s like they haven’t provided any food for infants or young children.

“There’s no nappies, so we’re like handing-off nappies to people.”

He also said water was limited.

The connecting flight to Britain for Mr Devine, his wife Elizabeth and their six month old son leaves from Dubai’s main airport which is 80km away and they were unsure of how they were going to get their given the treacherous conditions.

‘Running out of food’

A passenger called Pallavi was with her family of three at the correct airport in Dubai but conditions were no better.

The mum, who was flying from Mumbai to New York via Dubai, said the situation was untenable.

“People here are sleeping on the floor and the airport is running out of food options. All we are getting is coffee, as everything’s out of supply,” Pallavi told UK newspaper The Mirror.

Anne Wing, from Yorkshire in England’s north, said her family hadn’t eaten for hours and only small cartons of water were being handed out.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous here,” she told the BBC.

“It’s horrific, we are squashed in like animals. It is dangerous and inhumane,” she added.

Another couple said they were “desperate for food” and in 13 hours had only had a coffee.

Dubai Airport said it was still facing “operational challenges due to unprecedented weather”.

“We are working tirelessly to get refreshments while we overcome shortage and supply issues due to flooded roads.”

On Wednesday the airport said food was “being distributed” in two terminals while restaurants were open in a third terminal.

Worst rain for 75 years

The UAE’s National Centre for Meteorology said 255mm of rain came down in 24 hours on Tuesday near Al Ain, on the Oman border.

With the UAE averaging between 140mm and 200mm of rain each year, that amount far exceeds the annual usual total.

Oman said it had received its worst rain for 75 years. In the nation, south and east of the UAE, 19 people have died from the floods. One person died in the UAE itself.