Residents walk in a flooded street following heavy rains in Jeddah on Thursday. AFP
At least two people died on Thursday as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia, including the coastal city of Jeddah, delaying flights and forcing schools to close, officials said.
"Two deaths have been recorded so far, and we call on everyone not to go out unless necessary," the Makkah regional government said on its Twitter page.
The Makkah region includes Jeddah, the kingdom's second-largest city of roughly four million people, and Makkah city, the holiest city in Islam where millions perform the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages each year.
The road connecting the two, which many pilgrims use to reach Makkah, was closed on Thursday once the rains began, state media reported, although it was later reopened, authorities said.
The state-affiliated Al Ekhbariya channel showed footage of worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah circling the Holy Kaaba — the cubic structure that is the focal point of Islam — under a heavy downpour.
Images posted to social media on Thursday showed standing water snarling traffic in Jeddah and partially submerging some vehicles.
The city's King Abdulaziz International Airport said that "due to weather conditions, the departure of some flights has been delayed" and urged passengers to contact carriers for up-to-date schedules.
The official Saudi Press Agency reported before dawn that schools in the city would be suspended as rains were forecast to continue throughout the day.
Schools were also closed in the nearby towns of Rabigh and Khulais "to preserve the safety of male and female students," SPA said.
The kingdom is in the middle of final exams, yet schools had already been closed nationwide on Wednesday after King Salman declared a holiday following Saudi Arabia's shock defeat of Argentina in the World Cup.
Winter rainstorms and flooding occur almost every year in Jeddah, where residents have long decried poor infrastructure.
Al Tunaiji said the specialized police teams worked in coordination with the National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management Authority to respond to any emergencies as a result of torrential rains and floods in several regions of the country.
The emirate had braced up to address this anticipated summer deluge, by monitoring potential risks and reviewing federal response plans, to ensure the readiness of emergency crews and mechanisms, and spread awareness and safety tips.
The amendments include the addition of articles prohibiting gatherings near valleys flowing with rainwater and dams during rainfall, as well as entering valleys regardless of the level of danger.
Over 81,000 are still in shelters and nine others injured, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Sixteen of the 25 deaths were reported in Northern Mindanao region in the south, while 12 of the 26 missing are from the eastern Bicol region, the council added.
In a powerful demonstration of global solidarity, governments, businesses, investors and philanthropies have announced over $57 billion (Dhs200 billion) across the climate agenda in just the first four days of COP28.
Masdar City hopes to set a new industry standard for houses of worship in the region through an innovative design that blends environmental protection with cultural heritage and community building.
Coinciding with the UAE’s hosting of COP28, the CBUAE, in cooperation with the COP28 Presidency, on Sunday organised an event to facilitate global climate finance solutions and progress towards a sustainable future.