By CJ Mohammed Bashar Al Fateh in Riyadh
The storm raged for several hours. Visibility dropped to zero at the international airports in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Airport Director Saad Al-Tasan said that all air traffic at King Khalid International Airport was halted for over six hours because of the storm, and later the airport was only allowing departures with special instructions.
Drivers were forced to stop or slow down as the sand turned skies into an orange brown.
All schools and offices are closed. Roads visibility is reportedly zero and police is not allowing the traffic on roads due to congestion in atmosphere.
Billowing clouds of sand engulfed the city and surrounding areas, forcing drivers to slow to a crawl and people to stay indoors.
"We've never seen such weather in my 32 years of stay in Saudi Arabia", said Jayceelan Santhanam, an airline official.
This is surely the worst sandstorm to hit Riyadh. Visibility plunged to zero as the huge wave of dust ploughed through the city at high noon. The impact shut out the bright blue sky and turned everything into an eerie orange-brown.
Schools at all levels in the capital city, as well as the province of Riyadh and surrounding areas, were told not to open due to inclement weather.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the director general of education in Riyadh, Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdullah, said the suspension of classes was a precautionary measure as the region was witnessing a high density of rainfall.
He said the order covers both government and private schools, including international schools.
Riyadh region as well as other parts of the kingdom, especially the central and northwestern areas, have experienced heavy rains and floodings during the past few days.