In Saudi Arabia, the climate is generally desert, and it's very hot in summer in all of the country. The rains are very scarce almost everywhere, and concentrated from November to April. There are, however, differences among the areas that are worth considering.

Index


The coasts



Saudi Arabia, climate of the coasts
Along both the western and eastern coasts of Saudi Arabia, the climate is desert, and it's particularly mild in winter, even warm in the central and southern part of the Red Sea coast, while in summer, it's very hot everywhere, but it's sultry on the shores of the Red Sea, and a bit drier, and therefore torrid, on the shores of the Persian Gulf.

Red Sea Coast

On the coast of the Red Sea (called Tihamah), the average temperature in January is around 14 °C (57 °F) in the northernmost part, ie on the Gulf of Aqaba, where it can sometimes get cold at night, while it reaches 25 °C (77 °F) of the southern part, where therefore there's no real winter, and it's hot all year round. Summer is very hot everywhere.

Al Wajh

In Al Wajh, in the northern part of the coast, winter is pleasantly warm, while summer is very hot. Here are the average temperatures.
Al Wajh - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)131416202224252524221815
Max (°C)242527303234343533322926
Min (°F)555761687275777775726459
Max (°F)757781869093939591908479

In Al Wajh, the sun shines all year round, as we can see in the following table.
Al Wajh - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours9101011121414131211109

The Red Sea in Al Wajh is warm enough for swimming all year round, although it goes down to 23 °C (73 °F) in February and March, while it gets very warm in summer. In the northernmost part, in the Gulf of Aqaba, it is a bit cool in winter, since it goes down to 21 °C (70 °F) in February and March.
Al Wajh - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)242323242627293029282725
Temp (°F)757373757981848684828177

Djeddah

Already in Jeddah, in the central part of the west coast, the average in January is 24.5 °C (76 °F). Summer is very hot and humid, with highs around 38/39 °C (100/102 °F) between June and August; the heat is sweltering because of the humidity coming from the sea. By contrast, in the days when the wind blows from the interior, the temperature can reach as high as 46/47 °C (115/117 °F). Rainfall is definitely scarce: the rainiest month is November, with only 20 millimeters (0.8 inches) of rain. Here are the average temperatures.
Jeddah - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)202021222425272826242221
Max (°C)293032353738393938373431
Min (°F)686870727577818279757270
Max (°F)8486909599100102102100999388

Jeddah is a very sunny city, but in summer, it can be reached by some cloud banks. However, this phenomenon is more evident in the southern part of the Red Sea coast, which from June to September is affected by cloud banks coming from Africa due to the southwest monsoon (see below), which on the mountains can also bring some rains.
Jeddah - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours79101112111011111198

At the latitude of Jeddah, the Red Sea in winter is a bit warmer than in the northern part of the coast.
Jeddah - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)262525262829313131302927
Temp (°F)797777798284888888868481

Mecca

Mecca is not right on the coast, but it lies at sea level and to the west of the mountains, so it's hot throughout the year as well, actually, it's even hotter than Jeddah, especially in summer, when highs are normally around 43/44 °C (109/111 °F). The humidity is lower than on the coast, but the combination of humidity and temperature makes the heat oppressive. Mecca is a very hot city, in fact, during the day the temperature normally exceeds 40 °C (104 °F) for several months, from May to September; there are about 300 days with more than 32 °C (90 °F) per year, and the daily average temperature of the whole year is as high as 30.5 °C (87 °F). Mecca is therefore one of the hottest large cities in the world. Here are the average temperatures.
Mecca - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)191921252829293029262320
Max (°C)313235394244434343403532
Min (°F)666670778284848684797368
Max (°F)8890951021081111091091091049590

In Mecca, only 110 mm (4.3 in) of rain fall per year. Here is the average precipitation.
Mecca - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)21371010155142220110
Prec.(in)0.80.10.30.40000.20.20.60.90.84.3
Days41221001224322

In Mecca too, the sun shines very often; in summer, however, there can be some cloud banks coming from Africa, though there are still as many as 3,400 hours of sunshine per year.
Mecca - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours89991011101091098

Mecca, Sacred Mosque

Jizan

In Jizan, in the southernmost part of the coast, winter is even warmer, while summer is a bit less hot because of the south-west winds that in this season blow in a more evident way. Average highs in the summer months are around 38 °C (100 °F); on the other hand, high humidity makes the heat sweltering. Here are the average temperatures.
Jizan - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)222324262830303029262523
Max (°C)313133353738383838373432
Min (°F)727375798286868684797773
Max (°F)8888919599100100100100999390

Because of the southwest monsoon, in summer, it is possible to see some rain, especially in August. Here is the average rainfall.
Jizan - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)133614819249181216133
Prec.(in)0.50.10.20.60.300.40.90.40.70.50.65.2
Days21121024221220

The sun in Jizan shines all year round, though there is a certain decrease in the sunshine hours in summer because of the southwest monsoon.
Jizan - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours889101197891098

In Jizan, and on the Farasan Islands, which lie off the coast, the sea is warm all year round, and exceeds 30 °C (86 °F) from May to October.
Jizan - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)272627283032323232323028
Temp (°F)817981828690909090908682

Persian Gulf Coast

In the east, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, the climate is sunny and desert. Winter is mild, but it's cooler than on the Red Sea coast: the average in January is between 12 and 17 °C (54 and 63 °F); sometimes at night it can get cold, especially in the northern part, near the border with Kuwait, where lows can drop to around freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). Summer is very hot and sunny. However, since the prevailing wind blows from the northwest, originally from the Iraqi desert, and therefore it does not come directly from the sea, the summer is a bit less humid than on the coast of the Red Sea.

Dammam

In Dammam, the average temperature ranges from 15 °C (59 °F) in January to 37 °C (99 °F) in July and August. Throughout the year, only 90 mm (3.5 in) of rain fall, concentrated from November to April. During winter, there can be very cool days, or even a bit cold at night. Summer is scorchingly hot, with peaks of 50 °C (122 °F). Here are the average temperatures.
Dammam - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)101115202528292925211611
Max (°C)212429344144454542372923
Min (°F)505259687782848477706152
Max (°F)70758493106111113113108998473

The sun in Dammam shines all year round, however, some cloud banks can sometimes reach the area, even in summer.
Dammam - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours888910121111111098

The Persian Gulf, in the central part where Dammam is located, is a bit cool from January to March, while it becomes very warm from May to November. In summer, the Persian Gulf becomes the warmest sea in the world, even more so than the Red Sea.
Dammam - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)212020232730323333312724
Temp (°F)706868738186909191888175

In the northernmost part, near the border with Kuwait, the sea in winter is a bit colder, in fact, the temperature drops to 18 °C (64 °F) in February and March. In contrast, in the southernmost part, in the small coastal stretch between Qatar and the Emirates, the sea in winter is a bit warmer, so much so that the water temperature does not go below 23 °C (73 °F).

The syrian Desert



Saudi Arabia, climate of the Syrian Desert
In the far north, there is an offshoot of the Syrian desert, which has a desert continental climate, with relatively cold winters, also due to the higher altitude, and hot summers.

Turaif

In Turaif, at 850 meters (2,800 ft) above sea level, the monthly average temperature ranges from 7 °C (44.5 °F) in January to 28.5 °C (83 °F) in July, with highs around 37 °C (99 °F). During winter, cold waves can occur: in these cases, the temperature can drop to -10 °C (14 °F), and more rarely (given the low precipitation amount) it can even snow. On the contrary, despite the altitude, the temperature in summer can reach 45 °C (113 °F). Here are the average temperatures.
Turaif - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)1361115182020181373
Max (°C)131620263135373735282115
Min (°F)343743525964686864554537
Max (°F)556168798895999995827059

Precipitation occurs from November to April and is scarce, around 80 mm (3.1 in), while from June to September, basically, it never rains.
Turaif - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1210131250000711979
Prec.(in)0.50.40.50.50.200000.30.40.43.1
Days22311000012214

The sun in Turaif shines all year round, but especially in summer, when the sky is almost always unclouded.
Turaif - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours7891012141414131087

The plateau



Saudi Arabia, climate of the plateau
Most of the Arabian Peninsula is occupied by a plateau, called Najd, whose altitude goes between 400 and 1,200 meters (1,300 and 4,000 feet). In addition to the rocky deserts, there is a series of sandy deserts connected to one another, called An Nafud, ad-Dahna, and Rub 'al Khali; the latter is the southernmost and largest, a huge expanse of sand. The plateau, desert and sunny like almost all of Saudi Arabia, has a fairly uniform climate: mild in winter, but with very cool or cold nights, and very hot in summer, but with low humidity. The main differences occur in winter, when the northern part is much colder than the southern one.

Rub' al Khali

Ha'il

In Ha'il, located in the north, at 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level, the monthly average temperature ranges from 10.5 °C (51 °F) in January to 31 °C (88 °F) in July. In winter, days are usually mild, while nights are often cold (and sometimes the temperature can go below freezing). Here are the average temperatures.
Hail - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)45915202223242116105
Max (°C)172024293438394038322419
Min (°F)394148596872737570615041
Max (°F)6368758493100102104100907566

Precipitation amounts to 150 mm (6 in) per year, with a maximum of 40 mm (1.6 in) in November, and no rains from June to September.
Hail - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)20102525150000104010155
Prec.(in)0.80.4110.600000.41.60.46.1
Days32342000023221

Riyadh

Riyadh, the capital, is located in the center of the country, at 600 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level. Winter, from December to February, is mild, the average in January being 14.5 °C (58 °F). Sometimes at night, the temperature can approach freezing, but there are also warm days, with temperature close to 30 °C (86 °F) even in winter. In summer, from June to September, it never rains, and the temperatures are very high, around 44 °C (111 °F) in July and August, but with peaks around 47 °C (117 °F). However, relative humidity is very low.
Ryadh - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)91115202628292926211611
Max (°C)202328333942444440352822
Min (°F)485259687982848479706152
Max (°F)68738291102108111111104958272

Throughout the year, only 100 mm (4 in) of rain fall, almost all occurring from November to April, with a maximum of 20/25 mm (0.9/1.0 in) per month in March and April.
Ryadh - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)17922266000011317111
Prec.(in)0.70.40.910.2000000.50.74.4
Days6410123000014646

The sun in Riyadh shines all year round, however, here too, some cloud banks can sometimes reach the area, even in summer.
Ryadh - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours7878911111091097

Medina

Medina is located in the west, at 600 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level like Riyadh, but it's milder than the capital in winter, since the January average is 18 °C (64 °F), with highs around 24 °C (76 °F). Sometimes it can get cold at night, but more rarely than in Riyadh, actually, the temperature often reaches 28/30 °C (82/86 °F) even in winter. Summer is similar to that of Riyadh, that is, scorchingly hot and sunny. Here are the average temperatures.
Medina - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)121317212628293028231814
Max (°C)242731354043434442373126
Min (°F)545563707982848682736457
Max (°F)75818895104109109111108998879

In Medina too, rainfall is scarce, since it amounts to just 60 mm (2.4 in) per year, most of which falls from November to May. However, every now and then, a thunderstorm can break out in the summer, or rather, there may be thunder and lightning, especially in August, though usually without rain.
Medina - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)63101050140210860
Prec.(in)0.20.10.40.40.2000.200.10.40.32.4
Days31343002123225

Rub' al Khali

In the south, the desert of Rub 'al Khali, uninhabited and mysterious, is quite warm even in winter, with highs in January around 25/26 °C (77/79 °F). At night, it can get pretty cool, but temperatures do not drop below freezing. In summer, the southernmost part of this desert is brushed by the south-west monsoon; in fact, some cloud banks may pass over the area, and sometimes, even a rain shower may occur.
Very rarely, the Rub 'al Khali desert may be affected by the remains of tropical cyclones coming from the Arabian Sea, which can bring sand storms, and unusual rains in the middle of the desert, as happened in May 2018 with Cyclone Mekunu. Cyclones form from May to December, and are more frequent at the beginning of the period (May-June) and a little less at the end (October-December).

In Saudi Arabia, there are practically no rivers of any importance, but as happens in desert countries, there are many dry riverbeds, called wadis, which can sometimes turn into ephemeral streams after the rains, which are usually short but violent.

The mountains



Saudi Arabia, climate of the western mountains
The western part of Saudi Arabia, known as Hejaz, is crossed by a mountain range parallel to the coast of the Red Sea. In the north (the area circled in green on the map), the climate is desert, with no summer rainfall, though some rains are possible in winter, and even snowfalls at the highest altitudes, as happens in Jebel al Lawz, 2,580 meters (8,465 feet) high, located in the north-west.

In the southern part of the mountains, in the Asir, Jizan and Al-Bahah regions (burgundy area), there are several peaks above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), among which is the highest mountain of Saudi Arabia, Jabal Sawda, 2,990 meters (9,810 feet) high. In this area, the climate is obviously tempered by altitude, in addition, in summer, especially in the southern part, it is affected by the southwest monsoon, a wet current affecting southern Arabia, which brings a bit of rain from June to September, as well as widespread cloudiness. Some rain may fall also in spring, between March and May. In some areas, precipitation exceeds 250 mm (10 in) per year, so the climate is semi-arid rather than desert. On the southwest-facing slopes, there are verdant landscapes and terraces, where water springs are used for irrigation.

Abha

In Abha, located in the Asir National Park, at 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) above sea level, the average temperature ranges from 14 °C (57 °F) in January to 24 °C (75 °F) in July. Here are the average temperatures.
Abha - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)89111315171717151197
Max (°C)202123252831313029262321
Min (°F)464852555963636359524845
Max (°F)687073778288888684797370

The rainiest season in Abha is spring, but some rains occur even in summer. Here is the average precipitation.
Abha - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1814474824817245355218
Prec.(in)0.70.61.91.90.90.30.70.90.20.10.20.28.6
Days4461084710222262

The sun in Abha often shines all year round, but the least sunny months are July and August.
Abha - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours9910999889999

Asir Mountains, Arabia

Best Time



In most of Saudi Arabia, either in the areas where the winter is mild (ie the northern part of the Red Sea coast, the central plateau where Riyadh and Medina are located, and the coast of the Persian Gulf) or in the warmest areas (ie Mecca, Jeddah, the south-central part of the Red Sea Coast and the Rub 'al Khali), the best time is from December to February, since in this way you can avoid the heat, which can be intense in the rest of the year (but especially in summer).
However, in the northern areas, north of Riyadh (see Ha'il, Rafha, Tabuk) you can avoid the winter, which can be cold, and choose the months of March and November. In the far north, in the Syrian desert (see Turayf, Al Qurayyat) where the winter is longer, you can choose April and October.
The best month for swimming and sunbathing in the Persian Gulf is November (in March, the sea is still a bit cool, while in April, the weather begins to be hot). The north-central part of the Red Sea is advisable for this kind of activity in March and November, while in the south-central part of the Red Sea, from Jeddah down to the border with Yemen, you can go from November to March because in these parts both the sea and the weather are warm even in winter.
In summer, even though the sea is very warm, it's too hot for sunbathing.

What to pack



In winter: in the Syrian desert, bring warm clothes, such as a down jacket, a hat, a raincoat or umbrella, and a scarf. In the Persian Gulf coast, bring spring/autumn clothes, a T-shirt for warm days, a sweater and a jacket for the central and southern parts (see Dammam, Al Khobar), a heavier jacket and a hat for the northern part (see Khafji), a scarf for the wind, and possibly an umbrella. For the Red Sea coast, north of Jeddah, light clothes for the day, a sweater and a light jacket for the evening, which sometimes can also be used in Jeddah and Mecca; in the southern part (see Jizan), in addition to light clothes, you just need a scarf for the breeze and possibly a light sweatshirt for the evening. For the plateau, Riyadh and Medina, spring/autumn clothes, a warm jacket and a hat for the evening, especially in the north; for the Rub 'al Khali, light clothes for the day, a scarf or turban, desert boots or sandals, and a sweater or jacket for the evening and early morning. For the western mountains, in the north, warm clothes, such as a down jacket and sweater; in the south, spring/autumn clothes (light for the day), a sun hat, a sweater and a jacket for the evening.

In summer: for the Syrian desert and the plateau above 700 meters (2,300 feet, see Ha'il), bring light clothes, a sun hat, a sweatshirt or sweater for outdoor evenings, and a scarf. For Mecca, the plateau and Riyadh, the Rub 'al Khali and the coasts of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, lightweight clothes, long and made of natural fabric (cotton or linen), a desert turban; a sweatshirt and a scarf for air conditioned places. For the western mountains, light clothes for the day, a sun hat or desert turban, a sweatshirt or sweater for the evening, hiking shoes; for the southern part, you can add a raincoat or umbrella.

Women should cover their entire body except for their face and hands.