Dust storms force Saudi school, college closures

Manama: Schools and colleges remained closed across several regions in Saudi Arabia on Thursday amid warnings of heavy sandstorms and winds.

The General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection said that surface wind and dust would limit the horizontal visibility in the western and southern parts of Riyadh, Najran, eastern parts of Asir and Al Baha areas and the Makkah and Madinah regions.

The regions of Al Jawf and Tabuk and areas between Hail and Madinah will also be affected by winds and low visibility, the authority added. Wind speeds will vary between 18 and 45 kilometres per hour in the Red Sea area and in the Arabian Gulf, it warned.

Schools have been shut for four consecutive days following warnings to ensure the safety and health of students caused by extreme dust levels.

In Tabuk, the General Directorate of Civil Defence had warned citizens and residents against weather fluctuations and thunderstorms in the region.

Abdul Aziz Bin Farhan Al Shammari, the spokesperson for the civil defence in the region, urged everyone to exercise caution given the prevailing weather conditions, saying that active surface winds with speeds exceeding 45 kilometres per hour raised dust and limited the horizontal vision to less than two kilometres.

Authorities in Wadi Al Dawasser, south-west of Riyadh, have assured residents that hospitals were fully ready to deal with any medical emergencies as dust storms blanketed the surrounding areas.

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