Did a palm tree in Dubai really catch fire because of extreme heat?
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Videos of a palm tree and of bushes in flames have been circulating on Facebook, with social media users claiming that blistering temperatures in Dubai had caused the fire. But it's just a hoax that resurfaces every summer.
Online users writing in English and Spanish alleged that temperatures as high as 63 degrees Celsius caused a tree and bushes lining a highway to catch fire. "Climate change is already here," one user wrote in a caption under a video that has garnered nearly 200,000 views.
The fires have nothing to do with high temperatures
But every piece of information in the post is false. In the video, a man can be heard saying in Arabic that the tree was "struck by lightning" and identifying the street where it is located. Using YouTube Data Viewer, the France 24 Observers team found that the same video was published in August 2017 by numerous Saudi media outlets, which reported that a palm tree had been hit by lightning in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
A similar search for the video of the bushes on fire led us to media reports of an incident in Kuwait. The Liberation Tower in Kuwait City can also been seen in the video. While the articles don't explain the source of the fires, it is highly unlikely that they were triggered by the heat.
The videos were reshared on social media in English, French and Arabic in the summers of 2017 and 2018, often accompanied by captions claiming that the fires were caused by high temperatures.
False claims of 63-degree highs in Kuwait and Dubai
Several social media posts also claimed that temperatures in the Gulf had reached 63 degrees Celsius, leading some cars to melt in the heat.
But temperatures have never exceeded 54 degrees, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The highest temperatures recorded over the past 70 years were 53.9 degrees in Mitribah, Kuwait in July 2016 and 53.7 degrees in Turbat, Pakistan in May 2017.
This year, highs in Kuwait reached 51 degrees, and 46 degrees in Dubai.