Last week’s Persian Gulf flooding may result in economic losses of 100s million USD

24 April 2024 — Daniela GHETU
“The flooding this week in the Persian Gulf is a stark reminder that flood risk is a truly global peril,” said Steffi Uhlemann-Elmer, PhD, Director of Model Product Management at Moody’s RMS.

“Communities were left submerged in the most severely affected countries of United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman and international travel was significantly disrupted. The amount of rainfall that has been recorded in this event has exceeded historic levels. However, the region is also no stranger to intense precipitation - it is the scarcity of these events that challenges awareness for the hazard and leads to a lack of planning and preparedness. The Gulf region is an area that is typically underserved with solutions for managing flood risk. Moody's global flood hazard data can help to identify the level of risk that can be expected from such flood events and with that can support important risk mitigation action,” she explained.

According to the latest Aon weekly cat report, “initial assessments from the area suggest a significant impact on property, infrastructure, and agriculture, that will likely run to at least hundreds of millions of US dollars.” However, the global broker underlined, “insured losses will be notably lower due to relatively low insurance penetration.”

Recent flooding in the Persian Gulf region has highlighted the increasing vulnerability of coastal areas to extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. The Persian Gulf countries, including Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, have experienced heavy rainfall and flash floods that have caused significant damage to infrastructure, homes, and agriculture. These floods are a stark reminder of the urgent need for climate adaptation measures and improved water management strategies in the region. As sea levels rise and weather patterns become more unpredictable, coastal cities and communities around the Persian Gulf are facing growing risks from flooding and its associated impacts. Governments and stakeholders in the region are recognizing the importance of investing in resilient infrastructure, early warning systems, and community preparedness to mitigate the risks and enhance the region's resilience to future flooding events.

Most recently, on April 15 - 16, heavy rain hit several Gulf states, leading to flash flooding. Some states received almost a year's worth of rain in just one day. Almost 50 people died in Oman, the UAE, Oman other countries. According to the UAE state-run WAM news agency, the rain was “a historic weather event” that surpassed “anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949.

A new study by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) exposed the serious dangers climate change poses to the Arabian Gulf region, reported the Saudi Press Agency on Saturday. “Unless drastic action is taken to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, the region’s maximum annual rainfall could rise by 33% by the end of this century,” the study said, stressing that many areas in the Gulf lack the infrastructure needed to cope with the uncharacteristic weather brough about by climate change.