Yes, the mountainous regions of Saudi Arabia do experience snow during winter. It might be hard to imagine that a country renowned for sand dunes and relentless sunlight receives snow, but snowfall does occur in the northern territory of Saudi Arabia which is punctuated by mountains.
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 desert regions, temperatures can fall below 0 °C 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?
Saudi Arabia does experience snow in some parts of the country, but to a majority of the residents, snowfall is an unusual occurrence.
However, there were two instances where heavy snowfall was recorded 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 in the media.
In 2022, on new year’s day, Saudi Arabia experienced thick snow cover in the desert region.
This too was heavily reported in the media, with pictures of locals visiting the snow-covered region to take a glimpse of this rare occurrence.
The winter season in Saudi Arabia is from December to January. The weather across the country is cooler, with temperatures falling near zero degrees at night.
Places In Saudi Arabia That May Get Snowfall
If you are in Saudi Arabia during winter and want to see snow, here are a few places that might receive snowfall:
The coldest city during the winter months, Turaif is located close to the northern borders of the country. The city once recorded a temperature of -12 degrees Celsius, the lowest temperature ever recorded in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula.
Another cold city in Saudi Arabia, Tabuk may experience snow during winter. Photos circulating on social media of locals playing with snow often originate from 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.
Temperatures in Arar rarely fall below zero degrees, but past occurrences of snowfall during the winter season have been recorded.
Although Shaqraa is located in the central region, the city has experienced snowfall in the past.
During winter, you may see snow blanketing the treetops and buildings (if you are lucky!), which makes for an uncharacterised yet beautiful sight!
This is one of the most beautiful cities in Saudi Arabia. During the summer months, temperatures can reach as high as 49 degrees Celsius.
Rafha is located close to the Iraq border and has reported heavy snowfall in the past.
Located within the mountainous terrain of Saudi Arabia, Abha is another city which may experience snow during winter. Snow here is not common but temperatures do fall near 0 °C levels.
Things To Do During Winter In Saudi Arabia
To best experience the pleasant 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.
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.
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!
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 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; 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 °C 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 reported instances in 2016 and 2022 when certain regions were allegedly covered in thick snow.
Does it Snow in Mecca?
It does not usually snow in Mecca, but there have been unverified snowfall reports back in 2016. A purported video of snowfall in Mecca on the 1st of January, 2023 was classified as fake by Saudi authorities.
Generally, the city features a hot desert climate with hot summer days and little to no rain.