The Four Seasons in the Magic Kingdom

The saying goes that there are only two seasons in Saudi Arabia and they are: Hot weather and cold weather.  I’ve come to realize there are in fact four different periods in the year which could be defined as seasons, although very different to the ones I’m used to back in my home country Finland

Before I moved to Saudi-Arabia I assumed the weather in Riyadh would mostly be hot and dry all year round without much variation. To my surprise when I first arrived in Riyadh it was late January and the weather felt much colder than I had expected. regardless, as a hardy Finn, I bravely joined the other Finnish nurses at the compound pool for some sunbathing and swimming.

We soon learned that despite the weather being hot (in our opinion around +23c is full-blown summer), the pool water was absolutely freezing. That didn’t deter us from enjoying this ‘summer weather’ in our bikinis though. At the same time Saudis were all bundled up in their winter coats on the other side of the compound walls. I created a graphic about this funny cultural difference, check it out here: Saudi and the Finns-The Ultimate Weather Extremes Survivors.

So what are the four seasons of the ‘Magical Kingdom’ of Saudi Arabia? The following seasons would be more typical in Riyadh and the Central regions as opposed to Jeddah, Jazan or the Eastern province coastal cities, where the climate is very humid year round.

The cold, rainy season (winter)
Characteristics for this season are the “cold” weather ranging anywhere between near zero Celsius in the mornings to +20c during the day. There might be heavy showers or occasional light rain but typically they won’t last more than a few days at a time. it must be mentioned that when it gets cold in the driest of dry desert climate, it just feels somehow much more chilly than the same would feel in more humid climates. The cold wind seems to penetrate all the way to the bones and to the core. Brrrr!

palmtree sunset wadi hanifa lake

Sometimes rain pours down for days which forms temporary lakes and streams in the desert. Flash floods can be a really big problem and can cause real life threatening danger situations if you’re caught in one. Believe it or not there are dams in the desert to help control the water masses.

Even the cities will flood as the drainage systems are not sufficient enough to handle the sudden downpours. Jeddah is notorious for serious flooding whenever the rainy season begins. The drainage/sewage system was not designed to handle the masses of water and this coastal city of Saudi Arabia becomes like the Middle-East’s Venice during this season.

This is a great time to visit the desert which will be blooming with flowers and green scenery after the rains. The cold weather begins usually around late November lasting until February.

desert flower

white desert flower

The sandstorm season (spring)
This is the worst time of the year to be in Saudi Arabia, especially the cities surrounded by the desert. Sandstorm season starts around February to March lasting until May or even June during a bad year. During this time Saudi-Arabia is ridden with sandstorms ranging in severity from the mild “dusty and hazy days” to moderate or severe with zero visibility and fierce winds.

sandstsormA peculiar weather phenomenon I found out exists only through living in Saudi Arabia, is that sandstorms sometimes pair up with thunderstorms. When this occurs the weather is typically very windy, blowing the dust around high up into the atmosphere which can trigger clouds to rain or even hail, followed by lightning and thunder.

The weirdest part about this combo is how the rain actually becomes mixed with the dust in the air, resulting in mud falling down from the skies. This type of rain covers everything it lands on with a thick, gooey layer of mud. I like to call this weather phenomenon “mudding” because it describes so well how dreadful it is.  The temperatures during this season start rising slowly, eventually reaching about +40c.

The hot season (summer)
From around May up until October the mercury normally doesn’t drop below +40c. This season is when most people want to leave the country. The dry heat might rise up to +50c degrees in the worst months and typically the nights will not bring much relief to the scorching heat. Check out this post to find out what happens when summer has arrived in Saudi Arabia.

The mild, clear season (fall)

This is my favorite season, although unfortunately it doesn’t last very long. During the Saudi “autumn” the weather is picture perfect from around October to around mid December. There are typically very clear skies with no sandstorms or dust blowing around and the temperatures hover around a lovely +25- +30c. This time of year also beautiful sunsets and clouds can be spotted. Reminds me of weather on a perfect Finnish summer day but in Finland we would be lucky to have this kind of weather more than a few days in a year! Therefore this is the best time to head out and enjoy the beauty of the desert.

Stay tuned for some incredibly beautiful scenery you wouldn’t believe exists in the Saudi Arabian desert in Blue Abaya’s next post. Make sure you’ve subscribed to updates via email with the form below!

view from the Edge of the World Saudi Arabia

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  • ipv6January 31, 2011 - 2:06 am

    The land mass near the lake or the ocean always had a mild weather due to the present of large body of water(be it in cold or dry climate.

    Water is a very interesting alements in this world. Not only crucial for the biological need within the cells but also serve as a mechanism in regulating the world climate. Just like the CO2, too much H2O in the atmosfera will also contributed to the global warming.ReplyCancel

  • Mountain BoyMay 7, 2016 - 11:40 pm

    You described it very precisely.
    How long have you been in Saudi Arabia, By the way?ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraMay 13, 2016 - 10:35 pm

      For 8 years now :)ReplyCancel

    • IbrahinSeptember 13, 2018 - 11:16 pm

      I was born here i am living here since birth i spent 13 years of my life in Jeddah and then moved to Riyadh 5 months ago tbh Jeddah is better Riyadh there are lots of problem including the people and weatherReplyCancel

  • Ten Beautiful Places to Discover in Riyadh’s Desert » Blue AbayaSeptember 13, 2016 - 3:27 am

    […] The best time to go for overnight camping is in the cooler months starting from October to March, although spring is also sandstorm season. Read more about Saudi weather seasons here: Four Seasons of the Magic Kingdom. […]ReplyCancel

  • BenAugust 11, 2019 - 6:28 am

    Hi laura. Very informative blog, especially for those that will work for the first time in the kingdom. Your blog helps ne what to prepare, specially those chilly ang the “muddling” season comes in. Im having a second thought of getting an offer in the kingdom, but ecstatic at the same time knowing that my family are also in the central of it. Looking forward to your update and your travelogs.ReplyCancel

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