Why does Dubai create artificial rain

Rainmaker: Emirates get their water from the clouds

The sky must be gray. Otherwise it is not worth taking off for the pilots. You need clouds.

As soon as they show up, the darker the better, it starts. Then a Beechcraft soars into the sky and goes hunting for the rain. Four of these twin-engine propeller planes are waiting at the Al-Ain airport in the United Arab Emirates. They are equipped with salt crystals.

With these salt crystals, the pilots can inoculate the gray in the sky in the hope of increasing the condensation of the water contained in the clouds and triggering a downpour.

Only 78 milliliters of precipitation a year

The oil-rich emirates are among the ten driest countries in the world. Due to the rapid economic growth and the large influx of foreigners, the country's need for water is steadily increasing, so that the desert nation with around eight million people is fighting for every drop.

According to World Bank figures, the Emirates only rain an average of 78 millimeters per year. For comparison: In Germany alone in July of this year it was an average of 68 milliliters.

Cloud inoculation is one of the measures the Federation's National Center for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) is trying to meet water needs. In the capital Abu Dhabi, meteorologists monitor weather radars in order to provide the pilots with precise information. “As soon as they see convective cloud formations, send us off,” says NCMS pilot Mark Newman.

Not all inoculated clouds produce rain