Abu Dhabi skyline
Abu Dhabi skyline iStock

Air defense systems in the United Arab Emirates intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile launched by the Yemen-based Houthi rebels on Sunday evening, the local defense ministry said.

Reports said the remains of the ballistic missile exploded outside populated areas. There were no reports of injuries.

Arab media reported that aircraft traffic at Abu Dhabi airport was suspended for a short time.

The launch came shortly after the Iranian-backed Houthis announced that they would be releasing details about a large-scale military operation in the UAE.

The attack occurred during the visit of President Isaac Herzog to the UAE.

Herzog’s spokesman said the President was updated on the details of the incident. He stressed there is no threat to the President and his entourage. The visit is expected to continue as planned.

The Houthis and their allies took over large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, in 2015. A Saudi-led military coalition then intervened in Yemen to try to restore the government.

It has long been believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthis to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Iran denies it is backing the Houthis and has also denied Saudi Arabian accusations that Tehran provided the Houthi rebels in Yemen with ballistic capabilities.

The missile attack on the UAE comes days after the Houthis attacked three oil tankers near Abu Dhabi.