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Another sandstorm in the Middle East sounds the alarm

Severe sandstorms also covered parts of Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia this month.

For the second time this month, Kuwait International Airport suspended all flights on Monday due to dust. The video showed largely empty streets with poor visibility.

The Saudi Meteorological Association reported that visibility will drop to zero on roads in Riyadh, the capital, this week. Authorities have warned drivers to go slow. The city’s emergency rooms have been inundated with 1,285 patients this month complaining of not being able to breathe properly.

Last week, Iran closed schools and government offices in the capital of Tehran following a sandstorm that swept across the country. It hit hardest in the country’s southwestern desert region of Khuzestan, where more than 800 people sought treatment for breathing difficulties. Dozens of flights from western Iran have been canceled or delayed.

Blame for dust storms and heavy air pollution has grown, with a leading environmental scientist telling local media that climate change, drought and government mismanagement of water resources are responsible for the increased sandstorms. Iran has drained its wetlands for agriculture – a common practice known to produce dust in the region.

Alireza Shariat, the head of an association of Iranian hydraulic engineers, told Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency last month that he expected vast dust storms to become a “springtime phenomenon. annual” in a way that Iran has never seen before.

In Iraq, desertification exacerbated by record rainfall is adding to the intensity of the storms, said Jotheri, the geoarchaeologist. In a low-lying country with many desert regions, the impact is nearly double, he said.

“Due to 17 years of poor water management and urbanization, Iraq has lost more than two-thirds of its green cover,” he said. “That’s why Iraqis complain more than their neighbors about sandstorms in their regions.”

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