Weather Changing in Saudi Arabia

Jan 12, 2023

Home > Saudi Arabia Through Dahlia’s Lens > Weather Changing in Saudi Arabia

Saudis sliding down a slope on snow (glissading) in Tabuk, in Saudi Arabia.

Saudis sliding down a slope on snow (glissading) in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Arab News)

Every year, I see pictures of snow falling in Saudi Arabia and I have to remind myself of the size of the country and its geographical variety and weather.

This month, in the west of Saudi Arabia where I have lived, we were excited for temperatures falling to 17°C with heavy rainfall causing huge traffic chaos, closing offices and schools going online (before the coronavirus pandemic, these days would have been free school days). Unfortunately, there were also floods. This is a situation that is almost daily in Manchester. Under Saudi Arabia’s rain rules, school children in Manchester would have life-long online school.

Many features are associated with Saudi Arabia, one of which is desert weather. Two-thirds of the country is made up of the Empty Quarter and AlNafoud, which is the size of France. As a country, Saudi Arabia is almost as big as western Europe and has a varied topography, resulting in weather that varies significantly from one region to another.

The weather typically associated with Saudi Arabia is hot, dry desert conditions with high temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter.

However, this is not the case everywhere. In the west of Saudi Arabia, along the coastline of the Red Sea in Makkah and Jeddah, the climate is temperate and humid (more humid than in the rest of Saudi Arabia) for most of the year. I have lived there and nothing has changed much despite climate change, which feels like it has not affected this region. We experience rain from November to March, which could be catastrophic.

Similar to the weather in the western region, the weather in the eastern region – Damam, Alkhobar – along the Persian Gulf Coast – is temperate and humid, with temperatures reaching over 40°C (104°F) in the summer months and high humidity, with dew points often above 25°C (77°F).

The central and southern regions of Saudi Arabia experience extreme weather, with hot and dry summers reaching over 50°C (122°F) and extremely cold winters down to 5°C. These areas receive very little rainfall, and the humidity is usually low.

On the other hand, the mountain regions of Saudi Arabia have ideal weather, with cooler and more temperate conditions throughout the year. Temperatures range from 10-20°C (50-68°F) in the winter months to 20-30°C (68-86°F) in the summer months. These areas also receive more rainfall compared to the rest of the country, with the heaviest rain occurring in the winter months.

In the past, people in Saudi Arabia would move around the country according to the season. However, this movement was limited to major cities, mainly Jeddah and Riyadh, because the facilities in these regions were the best. Despite the cooler weather in Abha, in the southern region, few of us would want to go there. It was less developed and, to put it mildly, boring.

Today, all of this has changed. The many festivals, entertainment seasons, and various events happening all year long in almost every region of the country are giving people opportunities to enjoy themselves despite the weather. Being out in the air is a feeling of freedom and enjoyment.

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