Coronavirus: Did Bahrain's skyline become visible from Saudi Arabia as skies cleared?

Social media users posted images of Manama in the distance from Al Khobar

Manama, Bahrain, Middle East. Getty Images
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While the coronavirus has symbolically cast a dark cloud over much of the world, the actual effect on our skies has been quite the opposite.

And an example of this may have been seen along the east coast of Saudi Arabia, according to social media users.

Residents of Al Khobar, just to the south of Dammam, took to Twitter during the weekend to share images of what they claimed to be the skyline of Bahrain visible from the shores of Saudi. When the photos were taken has been called into question, however.

The distance between Al Khobar's corniche and the high-rise towers in Bahrain's capital Manama is approximately 40km. The two are connected by the King Fahd Causeway.

Visibility across the Middle East is often reduced, especially in exposed areas, as winds pick up sand and dust particles.

One Twitter user said Manama was at its most visible from Al Khobar in "ten years".

However, as photos circulated online, another said he posted in October one of the images that has been widely circulating.

Air pollution and co2 emissions have decreased since the pandemic led to the closure of factories, shops and offices, and grounded thousands of aircraft.

“Visible, positive impacts – whether through improved air quality or reduced greenhouse gas emissions – are but temporary, because they come on the back of tragic economic slowdown and human distress,” Inger Andersen, the head of the United Nation’s Environment Programme, wrote in an open letter in April.

Significant improvements to the air quality have been seen in typically polluted nations such as India and China as a result of lockdowns.

In India, 118 large and small cities had been given Air Quality Index ratings of 'good' and 'satisfactory' in April and were at least four times cleaner than average pollution levels.

Research released last week by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) claimed there will be 11,000 fewer deaths in European countries under coronavirus lockdown due to a sharp drop in fossil fuel pollution during April.

"The impacts are the same or bigger in many other parts of the world," Myllyvirta, Lauri Myllyvirta, senior analyst at CREA, told AFP. "So we are looking at an even larger number of avoided deaths."


Coronavirus around the Middle East