Saudi Arabia: Riyadh Sandstorm of 25 February 2012

It’s ironic to me…the entire time Abdullah (my late husband) and I were in Riyadh there was not a single sandstorm.  Yet after we had departed Saudi, there has been at least one or more sandstorms each year thereafter.  However I am grateful that we did not have to experience a sandstorm.

I remember when first arriving in Riyadh, Abdullah sharing with me his experiences of sandstorms towards preparing me that they were something I’d have to contend with at some point.  He described how he got caught in a sandstorm going home from work one time.  He saw the great roll of sand clouds approaching similar to a tidal wave obscuring everything in its path.  When the waves of sand engulfed his car the day went dark and he felt the sand whipping around, through and in his car.  He removed his smaugh and wrapped it around his face for protection from the sand particles.  In spite of his efforts, he felt and tasted the sand as it made its way into the crevices of the car.  When he finally arrived at his house rather than enter the house in his now brown thobe, he removed all his clothes rather than drag even more sand into the house.

The windows of his house had splotches of sand sticking to them.  In spite of the closed doors and windows and towels which had been placed in front of exterior doors, the sand managed to make its way into the house.  The floors, curtains, carpets and furniture had their own frosting of sand.  Much cleaning would need to be done.

Abdullah said he went immediately to the shower to get the sand off of his body and out of his hair, nose and eyes.  When he finished his shower, his eyes were bloodshot from the sand particles.

The recent sand storm which took place on the 25th of February engulfed our former neighborhood.  I can only imagine the clean up whoever now occupies our villa had to undertake.  Yes…I’m glad Abdullah and I did not experience a sand storm during our time together in Riyadh.

The following are pictures which were shared with me of the 25 February 2012 sand storm in Riyadh.




16 Responses

  1. Sounds a lot like stories of the dust bowl from the 1930’s.

  2. Amazing!

  3. Wow, Nature can be all-powering. I presume if a person was caught in it outside, they would be badly injured//die?

  4. A healthy person is unlikely to die in a dust storm and a dust storm containing mostly natural material (as in Saudi Arabia) is unlikely to cause permanent illness.

  5. It is a divine sign that Allah Almighty can put every one under the dust.

  6. Those photos are spectacular.

    How long did the sandstorm last? I would think businesses and public institutions would close during these storms.

  7. The dust would cause some damage to the lungs. I have heard it is common to see scarring of the lung tissues in people from such areas.

  8. Zaheerhussain, it a sign that ”the divine” hates Arabs, and loves the Dutch. 😈

  9. Sandstorms are awesome but not really dangerous (except for wind related damage). The sand can ‘smart’ but not really hurt. All you have to do is cover your face and wait. Around here that usually last about 15 minutes. We do get some now in the Phoenix area but not as much as when I was a kid. The amount of dirt and sand in a storm is incredible. Many years ago my Uncle had a new car ‘sanded’ clean by a storm. Required a new paint job.

    The most impressive part, as seen in the pictures, is the tower of sand one sees before the storm hits. Great pictures!

  10. I have experienced smaller ones and they are very frightening but at the same time awe inspiring. The clean up is massive. The scariest one was coming at us as we sat on the runway awaiting take-off in Khartoum. the crew was hurrying to get us off the ground before the sand hit. It can bring down planes for sure.

  11. I was unlucky enough to experience one during my stint there and it was terrible… uggghh the cleanup , the grit, sand everywhere , in every crevice int he house.
    Godd luck and lots of patience to the people in this one…hope you have lotsa help 🙂

  12. I’m pleased I’ve never had to experience a sandstorm either, that looks horrible.

  13. […] – Feb. 29, 2012 […]

  14. Talk about extreme weather conditions being regular occurrence all over the world !! Protection from flood may be expensive but all possible, however, protection against violent Sand Storm will not come that easy …

    I just wondered !!? if the prevailing wind had lasted say 20 minutes to half an hour people could be perished from suffocation

  15. We had quite a few in Qatar, where the winds picked up sand and dust from the empty quarter and blew in for days.
    Thankfully, we never went to pure darkness, only twilight level lighting during the day at its worst.
    I’ll be honest, I SWEAR that I was still coughing up dust and blowing it from my nose for a year and a half after I returned home.
    I DO recall seeing a LOT of nebulizers of asthma treatment while I was there in every pharmacy, so there IS an impact to health.
    That isn’t just sand, but ultra-fine dust in that mess and it lasts for DAYS at times, not one of those few hours long deals that Phoenix gets.

    Zaheerhusain, if what you say is true, then most of the US must be truly blessed, as the majority of the nation, indeed, the continent when one considers Canada, has no such dust or sand storms. Nor is there any significant likelihood of such ever occurring. Don’t read a lesson where one is not present. The same region that gets those sandstorms doesn’t get snowstorms like my area does, nor does it get flooding that we can get.
    Punishment comes AFTER judgement, not before, as the creator does not repeat himself.

  16. There have been articles in both Arab News and Saudi Gazette with the Minister of Health warning residents about the harm which sandstorms cause to the lungs and respiratory system.

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