Sandstorm affects visibility, events postponed
January 21 2021 10:41 PM
The sandstorm in Doha on Thursday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
The sandstorm in Doha on Thursday. PICTURE: Thajudheen

* Visibility plummets as strong winds accompany blowing dust
* Windy, dusty conditions expected on Friday also
* Al Khor Carnival to begin Saturday, Qatar Strongest Man takes place next Friday

Doha and other parts of the country were on Thursday blanketed by a sandstorm that led to a sharp drop in visibility and prompted organisers to postpone events planned for Friday as well.

The authorities, including the Qatar Met department and Ministry of Interior (MoI), advised motorists and the public in general to exercise due caution in such conditions.

Friday's forecast says strong winds are again expected in the country along with dusty conditions and poor visibility. It will also be cold both during the day and at night.

The events postponed include Qatar Strongest Man 2021 and the opening of Al Khor Carnival 2021. Organised by Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) and originally set to be held on Friday at Aspire Park from 4pm to 9pm, Qatar Strongest Man has been postponed until next Friday, January 29.

This was conveyed through an email to reporters as well as through AZF's Twitter page. “Due to the unexpected weather conditions and for your safety, the event will be on Friday 29th January 2021,” the notice read.

The much-anticipated opening of Al Khor Carnival, which was originally scheduled for on Thursday, will now take place on Saturday.

"The opening has been postponed. Due to the unexpected weather conditions and for your safety, the opening will be on Saturday 23rd January 2021," the organisers said in a post on social media.

 

The inaugural Al Khor Carnival 2021, organised and managed by AZF, will be held at Al Bayt Stadium Park in Al Khor.

Also, a member of cycling group Qatar Chain Reaction said the Salwa Resort Triathlon, which was set to take place today, "will be moved to January 23" in view of the weather conditions.

As strong winds and dust swept across Doha on Thursday, many residents had to forgo their outdoor activities at places like the Museum of Islamic Art Park and Doha Corniche, among others, and cut short their walk or jog.

Due to low visibility in most areas of the country, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) advised commuters to drive with caution and urged them to “buckle up, slow down your vehicle and maintain a reasonable, safe distance”.

The MoI added that “driving in bad weather conditions such as dust storms requires extra care and attention to avoid road accidents”. “To enhance your safety on the road during bad weather, we advise you to be cautious and attentive and not to get distracted with other than driving.”

Some businesses and activities at some locations in Doha and the Sealine area were also affected by the dust storm, temporarily halting or slowing down their operations on Thursday, it is learnt.

In a post on Twitter, the Qatar Met department said: “We are observing a decrease in the horizontal visibility in most regions of the country, and currently reaching 2km in the capital.”

“Most areas of the country are affected by northwesterly winds, from fresh to strong, which lead to blowing dust and dusty weather sometimes, especially during daytime hours. It is cold at night with low visibility especially in open areas, marine warnings still in effect,” it added.

The inclement weather also prevented some people, especially those with respiratory problems, from going to markets. Instead, they opted for online shopping and home delivery.



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