Flood hazards in an urbanizing watershed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Hatim O. Sharif*, Farhan H. Al-Juaidi, Abdulaziz Al-Othman, Ibrahim Al-Dousary, Eyad Fadda, Salem Jamal-Uddeen, Almoutaz Elhassan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has experienced unusual levels of urbanization in the past few decades, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the world. This paper examines flood hazards in the rapidly urbanizing catchment of Al-Aysen in Riyadh. Remote sensing and geographic information system techniques were employed to obtain and prepare input data for hydrologic and hydraulic models, with the former based on the very popular curve number approach. Due to the limited nature of the rainfall data, observations from two rain gauges in the vicinity of the catchment were used to estimate design storms. The hydrologic model was run in a semi-distributed mode by dividing the catchment into many sub-catchments. The impact of urbanization on run-off volume and peak discharge resulting from different storms was investigated, with various urbanization scenarios simulated. Flood hazard zones and affected streets were also identified through hydrologic/hydraulic model simulation. The mismatch between administrative and catchment boundaries can create problems in flood risk management for similar cities since hydrologic processes and flood hazards are based on the hydrologic connectivity. Since flooding events impact the road network and create driving hazards, governmental decision-makers must take the necessary precautions to protect drivers in these situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-720
Number of pages19
JournalGeomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 3 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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