Dense fog disrupts UAE flights ahead of Christmas

DUBAI (AFP) - Thick fog on Sunday (Dec 24) disrupted flights at major airports in the United Arab Emirates as thousands of foreign residents rushed to travel home for Christmas and the New Year.

Dozens of flights were cancelled, diverted or delayed at the three main airports in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

At the Dubai airport, one of the busiest in the world, at least 17 flights were cancelled, as visibility dropped to just 100m in some areas of the emirate.

At least another 100 incoming flights were either diverted to nearby airports or delayed, according to the flight schedule at the airport.

Dubai airport is a major transit hub, and thousands of tourists are expected to visit the United Arab Emirates for the end-of-year festivities.

Dubai carrier Emirates Airlines, which has a fleet of over 250 large planes, said it has cancelled 10 flight departures.

The fog has engulfed most of the country since Friday, but it intensified overnight as relative humidity soared to 95 percent amid cold winter weather.

Police warned motorists to be extremely cautious when driving in the fog, which the UAE weather centre has said is likely to continue until the end of the day.

The United Arab Emirates has a native population of just one million against nine million foreigners, most of them from the Indian subcontinent.