Climate and Weather in Saudi Arabia

What to expect, how to pack، when to go

Saudi weather: What you need to know

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With a wide range of terrains — from mountains to deserts to beaches — it’s not surprising that Saud’s weather is also diverse. And while certain generalities apply, there are important differences between regions to consider when planning a visit to Arabia. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked climate-related questions.

What’s the best time of year to visit Saudi?

With an array of climates, cultural events and cuisines, there is no wrong time to visit Saudi. The question is, when is the best time for you to visit Saudi? Check out this highlight reel, featuring fabulous things to see, hear, do, smell and taste every month so you can decide when to travel depending on what makes you tick.

 

What is the average temperature in Saudi in the summer?

Saudi Arabia has a desert climate, which means it’s very hot in summer all over the country. (Think: high temperatures averaging above 40 degrees C for several months in a row.)

 

What is the hottest city in Saudi?

Makkah, known for being the holiest city in Islam, is also the hottest city in Saudi. In summer, temperatures sometimes top 48 degrees C.

 

When does it rain in Saudi?

Being a desert climate, rain is scarce and usually concentrated from November through April.

Snow in Saudi Arabia

Does it snow in Saudi Arabia?

Yes; in fact, a big storm that traveled across Europe in early 2020 led to snowfall in the desert near Tabuk, about 190 kilometers northwest of the Red Sea. But even absent such meteorological events, snow is not uncommon in Saudi during winter, particularly in the mountains of the northern regions.

 

What’s the best time to travel to the beaches in Saudi?

November is considered by many to be the best month for swimming and sunbathing in the Arabian Gulf, along the east coast. Over in the Red Sea, from Jeddah south along the west coast, these activities can be enjoyed year-round because the sea and the air are warm even in winter.

Use this guide to personalize your trip by choosing a Saudi beach adventure based on what interests you the most —whether it’s the time of year you plan to travel or your favorite water activities.

Keep exploring around Arabia

What is the weather like in Riyadh?

Riyadh, the capital, is located in the center of the country, at 600 meters above sea level. From December to February, the weather is mild. In summer, it almost never rains, and the temperatures are very high, around 44 degrees C — although the relative humidity is low. “I was there in December, and it was incredibly hot during the day, despite a gentle breeze. But we went to the desert at night, and it was really chilly. We put on light down jackets and drank copious amounts of tea to keep warm!” reports Hande Oynar, an American writer who worked in Riyadh.

Learn more about Riyadh, from its unique culture to its diverse shopping scene.

Jiddah

What about the weather in Jeddah? 

Situated on the Red Sea in the central west coast, Jeddah is a very sunny city. Between June and August, expect highs around 39 degrees C and humid air.

Learn more about what you can see and do in Jeddah, from exploring the city’s historical quarter in Al Balad to scuba diving among the Red Sea’s pristine reefs.

And in Makkah and Medina?

Makkah, which sits about 275 meters above sea level, is even hotter than Jeddah, especially in summer, when highs are normally around 43 degrees C. And it is a particularly sunny city, with as many as 3,400 hours of sunshine per year. Like Riyadh, Medina is 600 meters above sea level, but it’s milder than the capital in winter.

Learn more about what to see and do in Makkah and Medina, two of the holiest cities in Islam.

 

How do I pack for winter in Saudi?

For destinations in the north, such as Tabuk, bring warm clothes, such as a down jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. Consider also packing a raincoat or an umbrella. Along the Arabian Gulf, you’ll need a mix of lighter clothing for day and warmer clothing for evening. For the Red Sea coast north of Jeddah, pack lightweight clothes for day and a warmer layer for evening; to the south along the coast, all you’ll need is a scarf for the breeze and possibly a sweatshirt for the evening.

Red Sea beaches

How do I pack for summer in Saudi?

For Makkah, Riyadh and the coasts of the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, pack lightweight clothing that is long and preferably made of natural fabric, such as cotton or linen, plus a sweatshirt and scarf for air-conditioned areas. For the western mountains, pack lightweight clothes for day, a sun hat or desert turban, and a sweatshirt or sweater for evening, as well as hiking shoes. Farther south in the mountains, add a raincoat or an umbrella.

 

What should I pack to wear when touring religious sites?

When visiting religious locations across Saudi, women must cover their heads, so it’s a good idea to bring a scarf with you. Want more tips on appropriate clothing? Get ready for your trip by learning more about Saudi clothing conventions!

How should I prepare for my trip?

Now that you know when it’s the best time to travel for you and what to pack, take a look at this quick hit list with other important information you’ll need to prepare for your trip to Saudi.

 

●      Learn how to communicate with these common expressions in Arabic

●      Apply for your eVisa, a necessary document you’ll need to visit Saudi

●      Check out the latest travel guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure you’ve completed all safety protocols before your trip

●      Familiarize yourself with Saudi’s laws and etiquette.