Abrar Ifaz

Research Officer, Dismislab
Old videos from different countries are circulating as scenes of Dubai floods
This article is more than 1 month old

Old videos from different countries are circulating as scenes of Dubai floods

Abrar Ifaz

Research Officer, Dismislab

Hundreds of cars are being swept away by the strong current of water. Parts of multi-story buildings are flying like straw in a strong storm. Even many camels are trapped in the flood waters. Several such videos of the recent floods in Dubai have gone viral on social media. Dismislab found several videos that are not of the Dubai floods. Misinformation is being spread by showing the disaster scenes of different countries, claiming it to be the Dubai flood. Some are also calling Dubai a ‘city of sin’ by spreading these videos.

On April 16, 2024, several cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were submerged in 24 hours of unusual rainfall. The country’s media reports that it is the highest rainfall record in 75 years. After this disaster, various videos started appearing on social media. Dismislab conducted a keyword search on Facebook and found several irrelevant videos claiming to be from Dubai and spreading misinformation.

A video posted with the caption “Allah flooded the city of sin with rain” was verified to be of the devastating tsunami that followed the 2011 Japan earthquake. In the video posted on Facebook on April 21, houses, cars, and numerous containers can be seen being swept away by the current. The video appears to have been posted from multiple Facebook pages and IDs (1, 2, 3, 4). Dismislab reverse image search finds a YouTube video from Japanese media TBS News Dig. The clip shown from 1 minute, 40 seconds of the video is exactly the same as the video of the scene that being played in the name of Dubai. According to the original video’s description, the tsunami that hit the Tohoku region after the magnitude-nine earthquake killed more than 15,000 people. The channel says it is preserving the footage to create awareness about the disaster and to preserve memories for future generations.

A few days ago, Philippines-based fact-checking company Vera Files did a fact-check on the video when this video circulated on social media claiming that it was a scene of the tsunami that occurred in Japan on January 1, 2024. They said in the report that the claim was baseless.

Another video was found, in which actual scenes of the Dubai floods are interspersed with videos of older incidents (1, 2, 3). The very first scene of the video is also found in a TikTok video posted on November 25, 2023. The Burj Khalifa tower lightning strike at 12 seconds into the video was found to be about a month and a half old by Google Image Search. Local photographer Zohaib Anjum uploaded it on social media Instagram as a video shot by him on March 5. On the same day, UAE-based media outlet The National News also posted the video in its TikTok account.

Similarly, the scene of uprooted trees in the storm at 16 seconds of the video was found by Dismislab to be the event of 2023 in the municipality of Bicas, Brazil. Brazil-based media G1 reported that the storm occurred on January 4, 2023.

The storm scene at 31 seconds into the video was found on the video sales website Shutterstock. According to the video’s description, this is a scene from Hurricane Michael, which hit North America in 2018. Also, an edited version of this scene is available on YouTube, uploaded on 17 July 2019. A scene of tornado started from 38 seconds was found to be posted on TikTok and YouTube on October 7, 2023. The original video is believed to be edited, as the tornado is said to be visible, but no movement of the surrounding trees was observed.

A verification of a Facebook reel of a car float away by floods shows that the video was posted on Tiktok on March 2 and is claimed to be of flooding in Saudi Arabia. While it is unclear whether the video is actually from Saudi Arabia, the date suggests it is not a recent flood scene from Dubai or the UAE. Because the flood happened on the 16th of April.

Captions and video posts on a Facebook reel showing cars and parts of high-rise buildings flying like paper in the storm hinted at the Dubai disaster. On verification, the video was posted on Tiktok on March 2 from an account named disasters.today. Here too, based on the date, the video is not a scene of the Dubai floods. By the same logic, the video below can also be dismissed as not of the Dubai floods.

A video also came in the form of a reel from the same Facebook ID, in which it is written, “Doomsday seems to have begun after seeing this situation in Dubai”. Some scenes can be seen by doing a reverse image search of the same video posted on November 22, 2023, from the Twitter account of Turkish media platform Aykiri. The caption of the post read, “Don’t believe everything you see. Recently these scenes have been circulating on social media, which many believe to be true, all of which are generated by computer.”

Another Facebook reel showing flood scenes was captioned: “Dubai Flood 🤣🤣🤣.” Reverse image search shows that the video is actually from 2021 flood of Artbin, Turkey.

Meanwhile, various Facebook users are seen posting a video of a camel struggled in a flood (1, 2, 3, 4). The posts claim that the scene is of a flood in Dubai. A factcheck report published by India Today on April 19 found that the video was originally a scene from the 2018 floods in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia.

Such misinformation has been seen in the past during natural calamities. A 2023 report by Dismislab showed that after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, even images or videos of movies were being shared as disaster scenes on social media.