UAE Making It Rain By Zapping Clouds with Drones

Dubai’s indoor ski mountain has nothing on ominous new weather machines

Burj Khalifa surrounded with cloudy sky
Maria Fedotova/Moment/Getty Images
Rain on Me

A few years ago when a taxi driver spent the last arm of my ride to LaGuardia Airport talking at length about how the government creates hurricanes and tsunamis using weather machines buried deep in the ocean, it was with some skepticism (as well as growing alarm that I was in a vehicle helmed by a probable Q adherent) that I emitted an uncomfortable “haha wow, I never knew that.” But now I must admit maybe I was prematurely judgy, because it turns out that governments do engage in some kinds of weather modification. For example: using drones to zap electricity into clouds to produce rain, as the United Arab Emirates has recently started doing in order to alleviate extreme heat and drought conditions.

This is called cloud seeding, and a version of it is used in at least eight states in the drought-plagued western U.S., per Scientific American. Traditionally, the process consists of dispersing silver iodide into clouds to form ice crystals that become precipitation.

But you know Dubai, always into the latest gadgets and bling and indoor ski slopes and modern skyscrapers built by an exploited workforce. The country’s new cloud drone technology, developed with researchers in the UK, works because small water droplets within a cloud that get hit with an electrical charge will be more likely to merge “through electrostatic forces” and turn into raindrops,” one researcher told Arab News.

I’m not going to pretend to understand that science, but it appears to be successful. Behold, rain:

Playing God to address problems exacerbated by a global climate crisis caused by the hubris of man — if that’s not the human condition, I don’t know what is.