Sandstorms, rainstorms and…snowstorms? The weather in Saudi Arabia.

So this week has been a bit cray cray on the weather front, which prompted this post. Thanks, no doubt to global warming (yes Trump you buffoon, its a real thing) we actually had snow in northern Saudi Arabia earlier in the week whilst here in Jeddah we were seeing record highs of humidity for this time of the year. Lucky us right?

believe it or not, this is KSA (beautiful photograph not mine – see copyright)

Up until two years ago, snowfall in Saudi Arabia (land of blazing heat and deserts remember) was unheard of. But the past two ‘winters’ here have seen some snow, and although this is happening only in the far northern reaches of the Kingdom – there have certainly been a few days when it could almost be described as chilly here in Jeddah. And thats coming from a northern bird!

The humidity finally broke today in KAUST with a short but sweet, 15 minute rainfall – bringing people of all nationalities running out of their homes and places of work to look up at the sky in wonder (give us a break, it doesn’t happen very often). As I made my way outside and felt the rain on my face in the first time in 8 months, eyes closed in a bliss-like state of enjoyment, I did recognize the irony in finding such happiness in the very thing which is the plague of the daily commute in England. Seriously, the amount of times I’ve sat on the M62 in traffic halted by a seemingly daily torrential downpour and cursed the skies. But still, its strange the things you miss.

KAUST campus mosque, in today’s rain.

In the summer, the weather is fairly easy to predict – we’re talking severe, soul destroying, brain melting, UNBEARABLE heat. No joke, its really frikkin hot. In KAUST we’re lucky in respect to our location – because we are sitting on the Red Sea we do get the occasional sea breeze which really makes a difference in the height of summer. In addition to this, whichever genius designed the campus also added an underground network, connecting all of the buildings – meaning that when the summer months hit, we all go to ground, quite literally. Good work professional architects, you may rest easy now you have gained my official seal of approval.

Dealing with humidity has probably been one of my own biggest challenges since moving here, weirdly enough you don’t get that much humidity in North East England where our summer peak hovers around the 15 degree mark. If, like myself, your own personal experience with humidity has been limited to say the least, let me enlighten you.

  1. Your hair is going to be a MESS. Honestly the best piece of prep I ever did was growing out my fringe (bangs) before I arrived here. There is literally NO kind of hair on the entire planet that copes well with this level of air-moisture, I promise you. If your hair is thick (raises hand) your hair will be out of control, I’ve had a number of near death experience after being almost smothered by my own hair. This shit is real. If your hair is thinner it is going to plaster itself to your skull and you will look like Smeagol. Do yourself a favor and either shave it off before you get here, or get really good at plaiting, girl, you’re going to need it.
The struggle is real

2. Get ready to communicate via voice recordings only. Think the only people who voice record their message rather than text it are idiots? Yeah yeah, I used to be just like you. Until I figured out that its so frikkin humid outside that my phone screen is perpetually wet and you can’t type. Your finger is just uselessly skating around on top of there like a lonely kid at an ice rink. Voice recording FTW.

3. Every time you step outside, for even the most split of seconds you are going to get wet. Your face will be wet, your body will be wet, your leather bag will be wet, you get the picture. On a humid day my upper lip could easily be mistaken for The Nile, eww but true. And god forbid that you forget to fill up your scooter and it breaks down a mile away from work and you have to walk there. You may be thinking that sounds like the voice of experience, it is.

4. Your sunglasses will be permanently fogged. Want to wipe them? Yeah don’t bother because they will be re-fogged before you’ve got them back on your face, just get really good at using any sense other than sight to navigate. Or get really good at apologizing to people when you walk in to them. Alternatively don’t wear glasses and blind yourself with the retina-burning sun rays. Decisions, decisions.

So yeah, humidity. All in all – not a massive fan.

Its not all weather-related doom and gloom though, even in the height of summer we do get occasional respite from perpetual clammy-ness when the humidity drops off a little bit – because of a sandstorm! Yey! So all the stuff I just mentioned up there, just replace the water or sweat element of it with sand and you’ll get a pretty clear picture. Sand in your eyes – check. Sand in your mouth – check. Sand being pelted across your face at 80 knots per hour giving you an industrial exfoliating treatment – check.

Usual weather in the middle of winter – I KNOW RIGHT?

Right now we’re in Saudi’s winter season, which as discussed earlier can vary wildly. But in general the temperature is great at this time of year. We’re talking t-shirt weather, even in the middle of December – although it might get a bit chilly at night. Something I found pretty funny when I first moved here was the Saudi security guards wearing HUGE puffer jackets in the winter, when I was still acclimatizing and in general was sweating buckets every day! But 18 months on, I guess I must have acclimatized some because I’m sitting typing this in a scarf and a cardigan, WHO KNEW.

And so ends my rambling, monologue on weather. If you lasted till now without dying of boredom then well done you, you win a prize! If you gave up because of boredom and have skipped to this last paragraph to find a summary, then here it is: In Saudi Arabia generally speaking it is very hot. You are welcome.

As always, holla with any questions (be they weather related or not) and follow me on Instagram @livinginarabia for more photos of my time in Saudi Arabia, generally speaking I’m less tedious over there because of Instagram character limitations.


8 thoughts on “Sandstorms, rainstorms and…snowstorms? The weather in Saudi Arabia.

  1. Absolutely brilliant article Pippa, i read every character of it, and yes i think i must start thinking about Smeagol now haha. Thank you really


  2. Hi Pippa, thank you for your blog! Real fun to read (I even dropped reading my book for the past couple of days to focus on your posts). If you think it’s a good idea could you write about the university life? How’s the working environment, what are the upsides and challenges there (if you find it worth writing about)? Thanks in advance!


    1. Hi Artur, man I’m so sorry for my late response. I was away in the UK for a few weeks and I have only just found the time to catch up on the various comments here, sorry again!
      Thanks for the kind words 🙂 I think you raise some great questions there and I think its probably more suited to a blog post than a comment…so as an apology for how long you have had to wait, i will write one and post it today. So, watch this space!


  3. Hi, I’m trying to find out the date of grand opening of samba bank in kaust. I know the opening ceremony was sept 2009 for the university but wondering of the date of the samba bank opening. If you know some how please let me know I appreciate it. Thank you.


  4. I’ve been reading all the Saudi blogs I can and I really enjoy yours. I hope you update soon.

    In your posts about houses, you mention the shared apartments a few times but don’t say much about them. Can you comment? I’ve applied to KAUST but haven’t heard back yet. It looks like a great place.


    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for reading and I intend to update soon – just a lot going on here over the past 6 months!! I can definitely let you know about the shared houses of course, I will try and write a post about then this week to give you some more info. Good luck as well with your application! I hope you hear back soon :£


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