Heavy rains brought much of the Emirates to a standstill on Tuesday, with police receiving more than 500 accident reports by 10 a.m., schools being shut, and hundreds spending hours stuck in traffic jams caused by major flooding.
Two people died in separate accidents, local English-language daily Gulf News quoted police as saying, with most of the accidents caused by speeding and tailgating.
Major roads in Sharjah – a residential hub for thousands of Dubai workers – were completely flooded and police diverted traffic away from Emirates Road after rain made the busy commuter highway impassable.
Traffic came to a standstill in Dubai with residents having to wade through knee deep water to get to their cars and several schools canceling classes.
Dubai is experiencing its rainiest January on record, with 86 mm of rain having fallen by Tuesday afternoon. The previous record was 81.9 mm in the first month of the year.
Dubai police said its control room received more than 10,000 emergency calls in the morning, compared to an all-day total of 7,000 to 8,000 in normal circumstances.
Meanwhile, the weather office warned of further heavy rains on Wednesday morning. Forecasters say residents can expect sunny skies from Wednesday afternoon onwards.
The latest chaos came a day after Dubai shutdown for the visit of U.S. president George W. Bush, who is nearing the end of an eight-day Middle East tour.
According to an estimate by Arabian Business, yesterday's public holiday cost the economic powerhouse at least 432 million dirhams (117.6 million dollars).
A cold wave traveling from Siberia through Iran and Turkey has brought unseasonably cold weather to parts of the Middle East – dumping snow on deserts, causing havoc on roads, and resulting in the deaths of several people.
A light dusting of snow fell in Baghdad this weekend in what weather officials said was the first time in a 100 years. Rare snowfalls were also recorded in the west and centre of Iraq, plunging temperatures to zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and even colder.
Meanwhile, Saudi was bracing for the first cold wave to hit the kingdom in 34 years, with temperatures expected to fall below zero over the next month or so.
One person died of the cold in the northern city of Hail, the London-based daily Al-Hayat reported, with temperatures expected to reach minus six in the next couple of days.
The Arabic-language daily Al-Eqtisadiya said on Sunday that meteorologists were predicting snow in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, along with showers and thunder storms.
In the United Arab Emirates, the temperature hit zero in the northern areas, and snow fell on Al-Jais mountain last Tuesday in the northern emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah.
Since early January, temperatures in Iran have fallen as low as minus 30 in the northern Caspian province of Mazandaran -- the coldest weather to hit Iran in the past 50 years. Food supplies were short and fuel cuts resulted as around 21 people died in accidents related to the treacherous road conditions.
In the capital Tehran, snow levels reached 40 centimeters, disrupting traffic and closing schools.
In Syria, farming activities ground to a halt as temperatures fell to minus 16 last week. As heavy rains and thunder storms hit Damascus, cars were dragged out of the Al-Umawiyoun tunnel, where they were stuck for more than two hours one-meter deep in water. The Damascus-Homs international freeway was also shut down.
And in Lebanon, four people were reported to have died after temperatures fell well below freezing levels across the country, including the coast. The cold snap is expected to last to the end of the week, papers said on Tuesday.
Weather reports said temperatures plunged to minus four or five degrees on the coast and minus 10 in the mountains, bringing life to a standstill in Lebanese villages, while municipalities struggled to clear snow from the roads.
In Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, the temperature dropped to minus 10 degrees – a low not seen since the 1960s, with thin layers of ice forming on roads and trees.
The director of Baghdad's meteorology department, Dawood Shakir, said that climate change was possibly to blame for the unusual weather.