Middle East & Gulf States
Sara and John say...
The climate in the Middle East has two distinct seasons: winter and summer, jokingly referred to as ‘hot’ and ‘hotter’.
Rainfall is generally sparse and most Middle Eastern countries consist of semi-arid and desert terrain, although the countries along the Mediterranean coast and the northern areas of Iraq and Iran experience wetter climates with freezing conditions at altitude in the winter months. On the flip-side, summer temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius in the Middle East, where even the seawater is a warm, salty ‘soup’!
Summer can see daytime temperatures rise to the high-40s. So sensible protection is essential. The hottest months are July and August, which also coincide with the month-long Ramadan religious festival, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Due to the oppressive heat, this is also the low tourist season with cheaper hotel rates and fewer crowds around the attractions. Late summer can also be humid with sandstorms in certain countries. In Yemen from June to September the southeast monsoon brings green to the desert. Otherwise the coastal beach areas are the best places to be.
From September to November and March to May, daytime temperatures are agreeably warm, without too much humidity or rainfall.
Winter conditions from December to February vary greatly between the different terrains of the Middle East. The weather is often mild, but occasionally wet, along the Mediterranean coast, while the mountains of Saudi Arabia, northern Iraq, Iran, Syria and Jordan can experience freezing temperatures and snowfall.
But with the help of some layers - whether heading to the wilds of the desert or taking in the many booming metropolitan hubs - winter is considered by many to be a great time to visit the Middle East.