School Choice & Charters

Desert Rains Play Havoc With School Days in Dubai

By Mary Ann Zehr — January 17, 2008 2 min read

In Dubai, which is built on top of the desert and surrounded by sand dunes, schools have been closed for much of the week because of heavy rainfall. The city doesn’t have a drain system for water to flow off the streets, so some were flooded and had to be closed, making it difficult for everyone to get around.

On the morning of Jan. 15, when I stepped out of my hotel for a reporting assignment on American education consultants working with the schools here, I was surprised to see a steady rain. The federal government had closed schools and government offices the previous day to avoid traffic problems during a visit by President Bush. (You may already get the picture that traffic snarls are rather routine in Dubai, a city of 860,000 that is growing rapidly.)

I was accompanied to a private school, Indian High School, by an American consultant working for the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education—and if he hadn’t decided to have his ministry driver stop by my hotel and pick me up, I never would have made it. Taxis were hard to come by.

At Indian High School, administrators and teachers noted that, if it rains in the desert, it’s usually a brief drizzle, not continuous rain of the kind that fell this week. Yet the administrators and staff had a few umbrellas on hand, which we used to stay dry while darting from building to building.

Though Indian High School remained open on Jan. 15, administrators at other schools decided to shut down, worried about transporting students when some roads were not passable. And by the end of that day, UAE Minister of Education Hanif Hassan announced that all schools in Dubai would close on Jan. 16 and 17.

See Also

For more stories on this topic see our International news page.

The Gulf Today, an English-language newspaper, reported the morning of Jan. 16 that “Nature more than made up for the delay in rains this year by drenching the UAE with record pourings in the emirates of Sharjah, Dubai, and Ras Al Khaimah.” Dubai received 47 mm of rain in 24 hours, up until Tuesday at 4 p.m., the newspaper said. (That’s 1.85 inches.)

Still worried about getting a taxi, I accepted an offer to have a ministry driver pick me up on Jan. 16 as I headed there for interviews. It was still raining, and at one point the car I was in plowed through water several inches deep. The driver, Zackkriya Hussein, a native of India, said that in his 21 years of living in Dubai, he’d never seen such heavy rains.

The 17th was a bright sunny day, and fit my picture of what a January day is like in the desert. My visit to a boys’ secondary school in the city of Al Ain that day went without any glitches—schools were open in Al Ain, which is outside of Dubai. But on the way back from Al Ain, we were tied up in traffic for about an hour. The driver said the road we were on was clogged because cars were diverted from other roads that were still flooded. City workers were pumping out the water, he said.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, I’ve had a lot of experience with school systems’ “snow days,” but this was the first time I learned about “rain days.” Indeed, in the desert, rain can wreak havoc for the operation of schools.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Interactive Learning Best Practices: Creative Ways Interactive Displays Engage Students
Students and teachers alike struggle in our newly hybrid world where learning takes place partly on-site and partly online. Focus, engagement, and motivation have become big concerns in this transition. In this webinar, we will
Content provided by Samsung
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Oklahoma Charter Schools Granted Local Tax Revenue in 'Seismic' Settlement
A groundbreaking settlement will fundamentally change the way charter schools are funded in Oklahoma, despite vehement opposition.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
This July 19, 2019 photo shows an Epic Charter Schools office in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Thursday in favor of an agreement with the state's public charter school association to settle a 2017 lawsuit.
This July 19, 2019 photo shows an Epic Charter Schools office in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Thursday in favor of an agreement with the state's public charter school association to settle a 2017 lawsuit.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
School Choice & Charters COVID-19 May Energize Push for School Choice in States. Where That Leads Is Unclear
The pandemic is driving legislators' interest in mechanisms like education savings accounts, but the growth may not be straightforward.
8 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature on Jan. 12 at the statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address to state lawmakers on Jan. 12. She's pushing a major school choice expansion.
Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP
School Choice & Charters Letter to the Editor Are NOLA Charters a Mixed Bag?
To the Editor:
The opinion essay by Douglas N. Harris about how New Orleans’ education reforms post-Katrina are relevant to the COVID-19 era (“As Schools Recover After COVID-19, Look to New Orleans,” Sept. 30, 2020) highlights some basic improvements in the NOLA system but downplays the most significant aspects of those changes: the impact on people of color.
1 min read
School Choice & Charters Home Schooling Is Way Up With COVID-19. Will It Last?
The shift could have lasting effects on both public schools and the home-schooling movement.
BRIC ARCHIVE
RyanJLane/E+