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Does It Snow In Saudi Arabia? (You Will Be Surprised!)

Does It Snow In Saudi Arabia? (You Will Be Surprised!)

Middle East’s largest country Saudi Arabia does experience snow during winter. It might be hard to imagine that a country renowned for sand dunes and relentless sunlight receives snow, but snow does occur in the northern territory punctuated with mountains.

Saudi Arabia Climate

Saudi Arabia Climate

The climate in Saudi Arabia has the typical characteristics of a desert climate. The days here are unbearably hot, while the nights are cold – in the desert regions, temperatures can fall below 0 degrees at night. However, there’s an exception to the country’s typical climate conditions; for instance, the southwest region has a semi-arid climate with occasional rainfall. Furthermore, Saudi Arabian summers are extremely hot with no precipitation.

What is Winter Like in Saudi Arabia?

It snows in some parts of the country, but to the residents of Saudi Arabia, snowfall is an unusual occurrence. However, there were two instances where heavy snowfall was recorded; they took place in 2016 and 2022.

There had been no signs of snow in 85 years, but in 2016, Medina and Mecca experienced snow. This occasion was widely reported on media, with pictures of locals playing in the snow. In 2022, on new year’s day, Saudi Arabia experienced thick snow cover in the desert region. This too was heavily reported in media, with pictures of locals visiting the snow-covered region to witness the rare occurrence.

The winter season in Saudi Arabia is from December to January, a very short winter. The weather across the country is cooler, with temperatures falling near zero degrees at night. Winter temperatures can vary from 23 degrees Celsius to 9 degrees Celsius, and in some years, temperatures as high as 36 degrees Celsius and as low as -1 degrees Celsius were reported.

Does It Snow in Saudi Arabia’s Mountains?

Photo by Adel-Al-Omrani on Flickr

Yes, it does snow in the mountainous regions of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the 13th largest country in the world, which means that it has a very diverse topography. Some areas are streaked with sand dunes, while there are also regions of high altitudes. Abha, for example, is located at a high altitude, at the top of a mountain; snowfall here during the winter months is quite usual. Turaif is another area in the northern territory where snowfall is quite common.

Places in Saudi Arabia Where It Snows in Winter

If you are in Saudi Arabia during winter and want to see snow, here are a few places you should visit:

Turaif

The coldest city during the winter months, Turaif is located close to the northern borders of the country. The city once recorded -12 degrees Celsius temperature, the lowest temperature ever recorded in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula.  

Tabuk

Another cold city in Saudi Arabia, Tabuk experiences thick snow cover during winter. The pictures of locals playing in the snow that circulate on social media are often taken in Tabuk. It can get extremely cold and dry here, so make sure you bring your winter clothing if you are planning to make a visit during your holiday.

Arar

Temperatures in Arar rarely fall below zero degrees, but a thin cover of snow can be seen during the winter season. Snowfall is a usual occurrence here, so make you pack warm clothing.

Shaqraa

Although Shaqraa is located in the central region, the city experiences snow. During winter, you can see snow blanketing the treetops and buildings, which make for an uncharacterised yet beautiful sight!

Rafha

This is one of the most beautiful cities in Saudi Arabia. During the summer months, the temperatures can reach a high of 49 degrees Celsius, while in winter, the city is covered in snow. Rafha is located close to the Iraq border and has reported heavy snowfalls.

Abha

Located within the mountainous terrain of Saudi Arabia, Abha is another city where you can see snow during winter. Snow here is common, and the temperatures sometimes fall below zero degrees.

Things to Do During Winter in Saudi Arabia

To best experience the jovial winter weather in Saudi Arabia with sightings of snow-topped mountains and camels shuffling in thick snow, here’s a list of things you can do.

Snowy Hikes

To hike through the snow and see the desert land covered in winter flurries, head to the north. Tabuk offers several mountain peaks ideal for hiking and panoramic views.

Camel Rides

What can be better than riding through the magical winter land of Saudi Arabia? You can either choose a car ride or a camel ride – needless to say, camel rides beat car rides!

Snow Sledging

During winter, locals head north to experience the unusual weather phenomenon on a sledge. So, why not join the locals in the excitement of sliding down the snowy slopes of Saudi Arabia?

Camping

Camping sounds like a summer activity, but in Saudi Arabia, it’s a winter activity. To locals, the winter season is known as kashta, which means camping. You can enjoy a delightful Arabian night under the starry sky inside a traditional Arabian tent.

Winter camping in Saudi Arabia also includes several daytime activities like hiking and sandboarding; and at night, you can settle down at your camp in front of a log fire and gaze at the beautiful night sky!

Frequently Asked Questions About Snow in Saudi Arabia

Does Saudi Arabia ever get Cold?

Yes, Saudi Arabia does get cold during the winter. In mountainous regions, you can experience snowfall. The lowest ever recorded temperature in Saudi Arabia is -12 Celcius degrees in Turaif.

Does Riyadh have Snow?

The capital of Saudi Arabia has a hot desert climate and therefore does not receive snow. While snowstorms are not associated with the city, sandstorms are!

Does it Snow in the Middle East?

Yes, but only in the high elevations of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel. However, in 2013, a heavy winter storm hit the Middle Eastern region.

How Often does it Snow in Saudi Arabia?

The northern region of Saudi Arabia experiences snowfall during the peak winter months. The winter in Saudi Arabia usually peaks between the months of December and January.

Does it Snow in the Saudi Arabia Desert?

The desert region of Saudi Arabia isn’t synonymous with snow; however, there were two instances in 2016 and on the New Year’s Day of 2022 where the region was covered in thick snow. 

Does it Snow in Mecca?

It does not usually snow in Mecca, but in a rare occurrence that took place in 2016, there was snow. However, the city features a hot desert climate with hot summer days with little to no rain. Although the precipitation doesn’t feature a worrying percentage, there’s a risk of flood in Mecca.