Reader Question Answered: Dealing With The Saudi Heat

By | July 12, 2012

I was recently contacted by a reader asking about the weather here in Saudi. I remember it being a concern of mine before I moved here, so I thought it’d be a good topic for a blog post.

Imranyousafawan wrote:

I’m interested in applying for a role at KAUST and presently work and live in the UK. I have a young family and my main concern before applying is the hot weather in Saudi Arabia and we’d all cope. How have you found the weather? And how have you adapted to the extreme heat.

It’s no secret that Saudi is a hot country: It’s near the equator, almost entirely desert, and rarely rains. But, I want to let you into a little secret: The weather really isn’t too bad!

Okay, I’ll admit that today’s weather forecast isn’t too convincing, and to be totally honest, I’ve seen it worse.

Today's forecast, Courtesy Google Search

But, keep in mind that we’re currently at the hottest time of the year, so it doesn’t really get much worse. Also note that humidity level – on the west coast here, the humidity is fairly low which makes it a much more bearable heat.

[UPDATE 7/18/2012: Reader Daniel Traudes let me know that it’s hotter here than in the East of the country. He listed the humidity scale as “Dammam > Jeddah > Riyadh”. Thanks Daniel!!]


Work Arounds

Here’s the real kicker when it comes to the heat in Saudi: everyone works around it! Here are a few examples:

  1. You go from your air conditioned house, to your air conditioned car, to your air conditioned office. You simply won’t find places that don’t have AC.
  2. Riding a bike around the compound is totally bearable even in the summer. The compound is flat and there is a nice sea breeze. For many people, this is their main mode of transportation all year round. There is also an extensive bus system (with AC of course!)
  3. People don’t go out in the heat of the day – but they do go out at night! It’s not uncommon for kids to nap after school, then go outside to play in the evenings after the sun has gone down.
  4. Companies in Jeddah are open late and have parking right in front of the store, restaurant or mall. You never have to walk more than a minute from your car to the entrance.

It’s AMAZING in the Winter

I’ll admit that the summers are pretty cozy, but for 6 months of the year – from October to March  – the weather is perfect all day every day. It’s around 83, breezy, and sunny. And if you think 83 is hot, trust me, you really do get used to it. It’s like a beach day every day.

It rains about once a year, we get a mild sandstorm every now and then (but they don’t affect your day) and there’s hardly a cloud in the sky. For literally half the year! 

Don’t believe me? Check it out:

Average Weather for Jeddah, Courtesy BBC

The Sun is ALWAYS Shining

Here, the weather is totally predictable: in the summer it’s hot and sunny every day and in the winter it’s warm and sunny every day. No need to check the forecast!

I’ve lived in the UK and I would say that while I LOVED living there, the weather really was an impediment to daily life. You really needed to plan for rain and cold – even in the summer. And those winters, man they are a drag! Personally, I would choose a 105 degree day over a just-above-freezing and sleeting day, every time.

So, I would share this one piece of advice: don’t worry about the weather. It’s really not that bad.