Dubai drone cloud seeding raises flooding, weaponisation concerns

Occurred: July 2021

A programme operated by the Dubai government to generate rain by seeding clouds raised concerns about dangerous flooding, damage to public health, and its possible weaponisation.

First reported by the Washington Post, the state's National Center of Meteorology (NCM) conducted 126 cloud seeding operations since 2021 using drones developed by the University of Reading working in conjunction with the University of Bath. Catapults launch the drones which zap clouds with an electric charge, charging the droplets inside. 

Regular heatwaves and a lack of freshwater meant the programme largely received a positive response by Dubai citizens. But scientists expressed concerns that chemicals used to generated rain are classified as 'possible carcinogens' to humans by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Concerns were also expressed about the geo-political ramifications of 'rain stealing' and other potential weaponisations of the technology.

System 🤖

Operator: National Center of Meteorology (NCM)
Developer: University of Reading; University of Bath
Country: UAE/Dubai
Sector: Govt - agriculture
Purpose: Seed clouds
Technology: Drone
Issue: Environment; Geopolitics; Public health
Transparency: Governance

Research, advocacy 🧮

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: January 2022
Last updated: November 2023