Sultan Qaboos of Oman gave his civil servants a day off on Saturday because it rained the night before in the desert state.

The ruler declared the national holiday for his armed forces and thousands of other government employees after torrential rains fell on the north coast.Residents in the capital celebrating the holiday said the decree also kept commuters off flooded roads.

The average rainfall is barely four inches a year in Oman, a Persian Gulf state with 1.5 million people located near the great desert belt that stretches from the west coast of Africa through the Sahara and Arabia.