How Dubai rains, despite the havoc, brought back memories of India for NRIs



If a genie magically popped out of a lamp and granted the wish to an NRI based in the UAE to reclaim a slice of India and bring it to the desert landscape, chances are many would ask for the Indian monsoons. Big, fat dollops of rain falling pounding down to earth, alongside the acoustics of thunder and the daunting aesthetics of lightning strikes.

On April 16th, the unthinkable happened. Rains lashed the UAE in a way no one could imagine.

It was a veritable deluge, the likes of which (reportedly) haven’t been experienced in 75 years. The romance of the rains eluded most who couldn’t afford to be sitting at home with a cup of steaming of chai, listening to Kishore Kumar hum about walking hand in hand under an umbrella. In WhatsApp groups, many compared to the monsoons in the Mumbai, when the city comes to a halt, and everywhere, everything seems to be on the brink of a collapse. And then, through it all, what comes shining through is the resilience and the indomitable spirit — which ultimately wins the day, before the sun comes out and soaks up the excesses.

NRIFocus spoke to a handful of Indian expats in Dubai to their 16th April ‘rainy day’ story.


 ‘People were distributing water and snacks on SZR — it reminded me so much of India’

Dr Prgati Grover, gynaecologist at Prime Medical Center

“I’ve been in Dubai for almost 14 years now. When we moved here in 2010, the one thing we missed was the rains in Punjab. Then, around 2015-16, cloud seeding started, which was a welcome change! We would sit around at home, have pakodas and chai, and enjoy the drizzle and the respite from the heat… But what happened on Tuesday, 16th April, was altogether different and took us totally by surprise. There was just so much rain, all we wanted was to somehow get back home. So my husband and I wrapped up from work around 3pm — but then we were stuck on Sheikh Zayed Road for 6-7 hours, and finally reached home around midnight.

What I did notice while being stuck on SZR was how people were being so helpful… they were distributing water and snacks — it reminded me so much of India. There were police vehicles patrolling, and doing their best to help. And despite all the waterlogging and traffic standstill, ambulances were around, taking care of those who needed support… the government’s effort, as always, was commendable.

Years later, when we think back on April 16, 2024, we’ll probably remember it as a big adventure: how we managed to get home braving the rains, the water logging and the traffic!”


 ‘I would experience this every year in Kolkata, where I went on my summer break’

Arnab Ghosh, martial artist and marketing consultant

“I grew up in the UAE. Dubai has been home for over three decades now. In all my years here, April 16, 2024, will be a date to remember. This was the first time I’ve seen a weather calamity of this magnitude in the UAE. Sure, we’ve had spells of ‘heavy’ rains from time to time. The worst weather disaster I had seen in the country was in Fujairah in 2022, when people had to be rescued from floods across the Emirate. I’ve seen Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah being pounded with heavy rains. But in Dubai, the heaviest rainfall I remember is from back in… 1995. That year, we had heavy rainfall for almost the entire day. But it was only rain, unlike on the 16th, when the evening spell was a full-on thunderstorm!

This used to be my experience every single summer, when we travelled to Kolkata for the holidays. Our trip usually coincided with the advent of the monsoon. It was days of non-stop rainfall, strong winds, thunder, lightning and power cuts. Oh, and floods! Wading through waste-high water just to get home (or somewhere) is not fun… I can confirm first-hand. I can totally feel the plight of those who got stuck on the roads here; many had to abandon their vehicles and walk home.

Having said that, the UAE has done very well in dealing with an untoward incident like yesterday. Nobody was prepared for it. There was never any reason to be, really. But when it happened, the authorities and the people held up very well. Thankfully, I wasn’t affected personally — except for the loss of my home Internet connectivity late in the evening.”


‘I made yakhni pulao — my soul food for the rains!’

Michelle Silva, PR consultant

“There was minimal flooding where I live — the Al Hamra community, RAK. But the intensity of the rain reminded me of Mumbai and Goa rains… for Indians, what is called rain here is a drizzle back home… but seeing this kind of a downpour here was very exciting for me — took me straight back to Mumbai roads… I loved the rains, I wish I could have gone down and gotten soaked, which is something we never get to do here otherwise.

Seeing videos of families in cars and those cars are submerged in water, I wonder why people cannot listen to directives that have been given — to stay at home and not go out? The government has been very good in their communication; they started sending out alerts way in advance… everybody knew something big was going to happen, so people should have adhered to guidelines given for their own safety.

When I woke up on the 16th, the first thing I decided was to make myself a comforting meal, so I made yakhni pulao… I wanted to have soul food to go the rains.”


‘I don’t think I’ve seen this kind of rains even in Delhi’

Ashish Chawla, tech management specialist

“For years to come, I will remember 16 April, 2024, as a red-letter day. I’ve never seen this kind of rains in Dubai in my 24 years of being here. In fact, I don’t even remember experiencing this kind of rain in [my hometown] Delhi [in my younger years] — although it’s a different story in Mumbai and eastern India.

There was no water logging in our corner of the community where we live — even though the story a one-minute drive away was completely different — so I was not too tense, and I actually enjoyed the rains and the great weather. I really wanted to have pakodas, but there was no besan at home — so that was that! And I couldn’t even order them since all deliveries had stopped. We then decided to do some desi bonhomie and have an impromptu [homemade] pizza party at a neighbour’s place… but that’s when we realised the road to his place was waterlogged and there were SUVs under water… we had to come back with our homemade pizzas in tow.” – The writer is Consulting Editor of


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