Middle East Weather Guide
The climate in the Middle East is pretty consistent throughout the region with only two seasons: winter and summer, which are jokingly referred to as hot and hotter. Rainfall is almost nonexistent as most Middle Eastern countries consist of semi-arid and desert terrain, although the countries along the Mediterranean coast and the northern areas of Iraq, Iran and Turkey experience wet and freezing conditions in the winter months. On the flipside, summer temps in the Middle East can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius where even the seawater is a warm, salty soup.
The best time to visit the Middle East is between September to November and March to May when the daytime temps are agreeable and warm and without too much humidity or rainfall. When planning a holiday to the Middle East, the other thing to keep in mind is the religious holidays when businesses close, public transport is erratic and amenities for travellers are difficult to access. Clothing-wise, stick to lightweight and light-coloured resort-style garments in summer and jeans or pants, a jumper and good walking shoes for winter in the colder countries. While women may be able to wear sleeveless tops and shorter skirts in more liberal cities like Beirut, Istanbul, Dubai and Tel Aviv, be sure to carry a scarf as well. Covering your head, shoulder and legs is mandatory for women in some Middle Eastern countries as well.
Summer: May to September
Summer can see the mercury rise to the high-40s in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The hottest months are July and August, which also coincide with the month-long Ramadan religious festival where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan can be a difficult time to travel around the Middle East as businesses open at erratic times and visitors are asked to respect the fasting period by not eating or drinking in public. 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. Head to Yemen from June to September when the southeast monsoon brings green to the desert, otherwise the coastal beach areas are the best place to be.
Winter: October to April
This season is considered the best time to visit the Middle East where the temperatures are pleasant with less humidity and much cooler at night-time. Average temps range from 10 degrees Celsius in the UAE to the early-20s in the coastal areas like Aqaba in Jordan. The climate conditions of these months vary greatly between the different terrains of the Middle East where winters can also be mild and wet along the Mediterranean coast, while Saudi Arabia, northern Turkey, Iraq and Iran, Syria and Jordan experience real winters with freezing temps in the mountains and even snowfall between November to March. Now is the ideal time to visit the desert regions or check out the month-long Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai World Cup horse race in January.