Double-digit temperatures were considered cold in Gulf countries for decades. However, the past few winters have been pretty harsh in several Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE.
In these countries the weather now hangs between two extremes, one of which is boiling summer heat and the other is sub-zero winter temperatures.
Previous winters were pretty cold in Saudi Arabia but nothing like the ones in the past three years. The weather conditions were the harshest this year, with temperatures dropping to an unprecedented 3°C in the capital Riyadh. Areas where winters are known to be cooler in the kingdom, including Tabuk and Al Qasim, have recorded sub-zero temperatures.
Snow has been increasingly hitting cities where it rarely fell before. Rainfall has also increased resulting in huge floods in several areas. This year, snowfall has blanketed the city of Tabuk and the city has become a tourist attraction for people from all around the kingdom.
In Kuwait, winters in the past were chilly but have always been on the milder side and nothing like what is being reported nowadays. The rare occurrence of hail falling has become a winter norm in the Gulf nation today. Temperatures have been dropping below average in winter for the past three years. Though 2019 recorded less rainfall than the year before, it saw temperatures falling to as low as 1°C.
People in the UAE were quite unprepared for the temperature dips experienced last year. The winter weather doesn’t seem to be improving this year with rainstorms and consequent floods. Temperatures dropped to a record-breaking zero degrees.
In 2018, heavy rain and floods left schools suspended and roads in chaos in Dubai. Earlier, the weather used to be relatively warm throughout the year even in winter but not anymore. The UAE and its neighboring countries are now bracing for more severe weather extremes especially in winter, a season that was previously overlooked.
The extreme change in the weather recorded across the Gulf is certainly one of the effects of climate change. According to a recent report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), lawmakers across the region must pass laws to increase spending on renewable energy sources to alleviate the destructive effects of climate change.
That said, things aren’t all negative as nations like the UAE and Saudi Arabia are catching up to the global fight and moving towards developing serious sources of renewable energy.