EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rapid urbanisation and flash flood risk in desert regions: the example of Kuwait

Viktor Rözer1, Mohammad Alsahli2, and Sara Mehryar1
Viktor Rözer et al.
  • 1London School of Economics and Political Science, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London, United Kingdom (
  • 2Kuwait University, Department of Geography, Kuwait

The discovery of oil in the middle of the 20th century has triggered an unprecedented economic boom and urban expansion in countries of the Gulf region such as Kuwait, Qatar, or the UAE. Kuwait’s population has increased 7-fold since the 1950s – mostly driven by immigration - creating the need for large scale housing and urban development projects. With a strong focus on the provision of housing and a car-centric planning approach the environmental consequences of these large developments were often not fully evaluated. In combination with changing rainfall patterns in the region as a result of climate change, severe flash floods have caused significant damage in recent years.

Based on data from previous flash flood events and a high-resolution digital elevation model, a new flash flood susceptibility map for Kuwait has been developed. In combination with a detailed property level reconstruction of Kuwait’s urban expansion since the 1950s, we analyse how flash flood risk has developed in the Gulf state over time and which urban planning decisions have led to the recent jump in flash flood occurrences. Together with information about recent flash flood risk management plans, the study explores how Kuwait’s projected urban expansion until 2040 will contribute to its future flash flood risk.

How to cite: Rözer, V., Alsahli, M., and Mehryar, S.: Rapid urbanisation and flash flood risk in desert regions: the example of Kuwait, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-5580,, 2023.