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Dust from sandstorms blankets Middle East

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A man down a road during a sandstorm in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: Hadi Mizban/AP

A man down a road during a sandstorm in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: Hadi Mizban/AP

A man down a road during a sandstorm in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: Hadi Mizban/AP

Sandstorms have engulfed several countries in the Middle East, leading to the closure of schools and offices.

Blanketed with a thick layer of dust, several cities in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran and Iraq issued weather and traffic warnings as an orange hue enveloped them.

In the UAE, some cities recorded wind speeds of up to 40kmh, prompting authorities to issue a national weather alert.

And in Saudi Arabia’s capital, drivers were warned to go slowly as Riyadh observed a dramatic decline in visibility.

Up to 1,285 people in the city were sent to emergency hospital rooms after suffering from respiratory problems.

Neighbouring countries have been grappling with severe weather for more than a month now, as Iraq has experienced eight sandstorms since mid-April.

Authorities ordered the closure of airports, schools and public officesas the latest sandstorm hit the capital on Monday. Up to 4,000 people were rushed to the hospital in Iraq after suffering from breathing problems.

Schools and government offices were also shut down in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Tuesday, as the city experienced a decline in air quality from the dust pollution.

On Monday, airports in western Iran saw dozens of flights cancelled or delayed. This is the third severe sandstorm in Iran since mid-April.

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