Image: Sandstorm engulfs Riyadh
Jad Saab  /  AP
A sandstorm engulfs Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday.
updated 3/10/2009 12:07:43 PM ET 2009-03-10T16:07:43

A blinding sandstorm swept through Kuwait and parts of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, disrupting air traffic as well as oil exports.

The storm raged for several hours. Visibility dropped to zero at the international airports in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and in Kuwait.

Drivers in both areas were forced to stop or slow down as the sand turned skies into an orange brown.

A Kuwaiti oil official said oil exports were suspended for two hours because of the sandstorm. Exports were also briefly disrupted by a sandstorm in February.

Image: Sandstorm engulfs buildings
Jad Saab  /  AP
Buildings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, are engulfed Tuesday.
The Persian Gulf region often sees sandstorms. In Iraq, Baghdad residents have complained that recent activity appears stronger than in the past.

Shielded from the desert by a thin strip of arable land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Baghdad saw two major sandstorms last year in October and April.

Besides disrupting travel, sandstorms can cause respiratory problems for children, the sick and the old. They also have damaged power plants.

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Video: Blinded


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