Sandstorm forces Qatar, Saudi to shut schools; what's UAE's status?


The bad weather has forced local authorities in in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to shut down schools.

Qatar’s supreme education council tweeted its decision to close private and public schools on Thursday due to the poor weather conditions.

“Due to extreme weather conditions, all Qatar independent and private schools will observe  a day off today Thursday,” the tweet from @SEC_QATAR read.

These two comparative photographs show Dubai, Al Barsha road on normal day and during today's (April 2) sandstorm. (Pic: GSahany)

Several universities in Qatar have also been closed due to the bad weather.

According to media reports, the weather pattern is developing due to a high pressure in Saudi Arabia.

Indian schools in the UAE, which opened this week, will continue to function as normal. Most other boards – UK and US – are closed for spring break.

“Only grades 11 and 12 have school today,” stated a rep from Dubai’s Indian High School, adding, “As of now, there is no decision on whether the school hours will be reduced due to the weather.”

KHDA informed Emirates 24|7 that schools have the flexibility to decide on their operations during bad weather.

“Schools have the flexibility to do the needful in response to the weather conditions and other operational issues prevailing on a particular day. KHDA trusts schools to make the safety of the students a priority in addition to making up for lost time and lessons,” said Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Permits Commission, KHDA.

Gems Our Own Indian school and New Indian Model school confirmed that the respective schools will function as normal. “We haven’t heard from the KHDA, so we will be open,” a staffer informed.

Officials at Sharjah Indian School and International Indian School in Ajman said they are fully functional and will take a call if they receive any instructions from the Ministry.

In a statement to Emirates24|7, Adec said it has communicated to schools offering afternoon shifts to remain closed.

Several schools had, however, already started functioning, and it was late to announce morning closures. 

“As it was late in the morning to announce and buses had already reached the schools, announcing morning closures would have been more problematic,” noted the statement sent to emirates 24|7 by Adec’s Private Schools and Quality Assurance sector.

“Adec did, however, communicate with schools offering afternoon shifts to close as students are still at home.”

“We are open now, but we are awaiting a decision from Adec (Abu Dhabi Education Council),” said a staff at The Model School in Abu Dhabi.

Through their official twitter handle, National Center of Meteorology & Seismology (NCMS) warned of “poor visibility to less than 500 meters at times due to fresh to strong wind loaded and causing blowing dust”.

With the visibility low, the weather bureau tips motorists to exert caution on the roads. Due to the rough weather, residents are warned against heading to the beach.
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