Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:
A sandstorm on Tuesday engulfed the Saudi capital and other parts of the desert state, disrupting visibility and slowing road traffic.
The dense gray fog made it almost impossible to see iconic Riyadh buildings, such as the Kingdom Center, from hundreds of meters (yards) away, although there were no announced flight delays or cancellations.
According to the official Saudi Press Agency, the state’s meteorological center has forecast “surface dusty winds” east of the country and in Riyadh, “horizontal vision loss”.
According to the forecast, dusty conditions were expected further west in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Electronic signs along Riyadh’s highways have warned motorists to slow down because of low visibility.
In central Riyadh, sand-laden cars and buildings and residents struggled to keep it away from their homes.
“It’s very difficult to work outside because of the dirt,” Kalimullah, a Pakistani construction worker, told AFP while laying the tiles.
“I try to wash my face from time to time,” the 30-year-old added, wrapping a piece of cloth around his face to prevent sand.
Abdullah al-Otaibi, a Saudi office worker, said he was grateful he worked inside the house.
“Dust storms are part of our culture and we’re used to it, but some of them are serious,” said Al-Otaibi, 39, rubbing his eyes as he quickly entered his office building.
In some parts of Saudi Arabia, sandstorms usually occur between March and May, with varying intensities. Storm levels have risen in the region in recent months.
Neighboring Iraq has experienced eight sandstorms since mid-April, an event caused by soil erosion, severe drought and low rainfall associated with climate change.
In Iran on Tuesday, government offices and schools and universities were closed in many provinces due to “unhealthy weather” and sandstorms, state media reported.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)