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Urban areas more vulnerable to extreme climate events

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Urban planners in the Sultanate of Oman will have to consider the impact of heavy rainfall that usually follows the low-pressure systems developed in the sea, especially the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

According to the National Strategy for Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change for the Sultanate of Oman (2020-2040) of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), urban areas characterised by a high concentration of people, infrastructure, business, and industry will be vulnerable to extreme climate events in the absence of adequate planning and governance.

“Extreme rainfall can lead to flash floods, which can adversely affect business sectors such as telecommunications, insurance, and banking among others.”

Not to forget the amount of investment that will be needed to rebuild the infrastructure as was evident during the recent cyclone.

The report warned that with climate change, the Sultanate of Oman’s low-lying areas along the coast will be vulnerable to flooding from the combined impact of sea-level rise and storm surge associated with extreme weather events.

“The magnitude of flash floods and frequency could increase in the future from heavy rainfall. Plans for urban areas and infrastructure development should be re-evaluated to account for these risks.”

It quotes that Al Batinah is said to be the most vulnerable area in Oman with 98.5 per cent of its areas classified as very high-risk zone while Musandam is the least vulnerable with only 21.1 per cent of the coastal area being very high-risk zones.

Total inundated land from sea level rise ranges from about 386km2 with sea-level rise under 0.5m to over 500km2 under sea level of 1 metre.

Since 2007, the Sultanate of Oman has been affected by tropical storms of varying degrees, including cyclones.

Gonu was extremely powerful that went to the strongest cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea.

Mekunu was the strongest storm to strike the Dhofar Governorate since 1959. It developed out of a low-pressure area on May 21, 2018. It gradually intensified, passing east of Socotra on May 23 as a very intense tropical cyclone. On May 25, Mekunu reached its peak of intensity.

Phet hit the eastern coast in 2010 with winds reaching up to 120km per hour. Less destructive compared to Gonu, Phet damaged bridges, roads, desalination plants, electricity, and water pipes across the country.

The Budget 2022 said that the government will allocate RO 200 million to repair damage caused by Cyclone Shaheen that hit the country in October last year.

Most of the destruction was in Musannah, Al Suwaiq, Saham, Al Khabourah and Suhar.


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