Middle East snowstorm affects residents and the economy
In a rare scene, the whole of the Middle East has been covered with a white blanket of snow after an unusually harsh winter storm hit the region. The storm has been given two feminine names by meteorologists: “Huda” and “Zeina”. However, this storm hasn’t lived up to either of its names – it is neither calm nor pretty.
This strong storm has disrupted the daily life of people across many countries. Media channels had given three days advance warning of its arrival, and had urged citizens across the region to prepare for the storm.
In Amman, Jordan, the ambiance was very tense; companies and organisations took time to ensure their premises would be ready for the storm, whilst telecommunications companies and the airport prepared to put emergency plans into action. Royal Jordanian airlines cancelled some of its flights due to the bad weather.
In Ramallah, Palestine, people were stuck in their cars, with many having to wade through thick snow to reach their destination. The public and private sector unfortunately failed to announce a day off for staff – a rather different case from Jordan, where civil and public servants were told not to report for work.
Even Eygpt, received its share of the bad weather, with five of its Red Sea ports closed.
Whilst many people, especially children, were happy to see the arrival of snow for others this storm has made their daily lives – which were already very challenging – unbearable. Spare a thought for those living in Gaza and in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The storm brought a lucky windfall for businesses supplying foodstuffs and energy (such as gas and fuel) as many sold out entirely, with some supermarkets emptying their shelves completely. Unfortunately for banks, small businesses and those shops not selling food or energy, the storm didn’t bring the same fortune – the majority of businesses and banks have remained closed and unable to trade. It is too early to estimate total losses across the economy, but it isn’t the start to the year that most businesses would have wished for.