A spate of dust storms caused massive disruptions and several fatalities in the Middle East this week. In Pakistan, winds reaching up to 68mph struck the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, destroying roofs, uprooting trees, upending billboards, and reducing visibility to under 100 meters. Flights out of Islamabad International Airport were delayed, and at least fifteen fatalities were recorded.
Elsewhere, in Kuwait, heavy dust storms shut down the Basra ports, paralyzing tankers and costing the country some 1,000,000 barrels a day in exports. Flights out of Kuwait International Airport were continuing with normal, albeit limited service. This follows a late May dust storm that shut down Baghdad’s airport only days before a critical nuclear talk. And a dust storm near Mecca raised temperatures to 113 degrees before giving way to a rainstorm – possibly the hottest rainfall on record at 109 degrees F.
Dust storms can seriously impact travel in the Middle East, and visitors are cautioned against the dangers of going out into a storm without proper preparation. The gallery below documents some of the biggest storms in the region to date.