UAE Insurers Face ‘Very Severe’ Impact from Floods

UAE Insurers Face ‘Very Severe’ Impact from Floods

Dubai residents receive help from volunteers as they evacuate their flooded homes

The recent severe flooding in Dubai has highlighted significant challenges for UAE insurers. The historic April 16 storm caused extensive damage, resulting in a substantial financial burden on the insurance sector. Industry experts describe the impact as “very severe,” with claims expected to surge due to extensive property and infrastructure damage.

The flooding also underscored the broader infrastructural vulnerabilities Dubai faces as it plans to increase its population by 2.5 million by 2040. The storm led to widespread disruption, with major transportation routes and operations at Dubai International Airport heavily affected.

Steven Velegrinis, design director in the Cities and Urban Design practice at Gensler, emphasized the need for strategic planning to align infrastructure development with population growth. He noted that Dubai’s rapid urbanization has stressed water management systems, which need to be enhanced to manage future growth effectively.

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, introduced by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in March 2021, aims to address these issues by expanding green spaces, establishing urban farming areas, and dedicating 60% of the emirate to nature reserves and natural areas.

Experts suggest that Dubai adopt sustainable urban drainage systems, like those pioneered in Singapore, to better manage water flow during heavy rainfall. This approach relies on wetlands, public spaces, and natural waterways to slow down water accumulation, rather than accelerating it as traditional concrete infrastructure does.

Erin Grover emphasized the need for immediate action to protect against future floods, while Simona Azzali from the Canadian University of Dubai stressed that climate adaptation should be integrated into every urban project. Training for government employees on water management is also crucial, according to Hazem Gouda of the University of Wollongong in Dubai.

The flooding not only impacted infrastructure but also had a profound effect on residents. Volunteers helped evacuate those affected, highlighting the community’s resilience. However, the increased frequency and severity of such climate-related events pose ongoing challenges for the city.

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