Middle East Weather Overview
The large majority of the Middle East is arid to semi-arid and droughts are the norm in many of the countries. Despite the fact that much of the continent is arid, there are still fertile valleys and forests.
The terrain across this region is varied which results in climatic variation as you move from north to south or east to west. The area has many mountain ranges and also the entirely landlocked Caspian Sea in the west. Altitude and proximity to water are two factors that have a major affect on the weather and create the areaâs varying climates.
While many areas in the Middle East are not safe for tourists (or for soldiers, journalists or politicians, or, for that matter, for the locals), there are areas which are safe and beautiful.
The countries in the Middle East are: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Cyprus, West Bank, Gaza Strip, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.
Uzbekistan is one of the driest countries in Central Asia due mainly to its extensive lowlands. Made up mainly of semi-arid steppes, the conditions can get quite harsh at times. In the east you will find high mountain ranges which maintain snow cover year round. The low rainfall is also due to its distance from the sea and the rain shadow formed by the Pamir and Himalayan mountain ranges.
Tajikistan lies southeast of Uzbekistan and also lies to the north of Afghanistan. Tajikistan is the smallest country in Central Asia and is made up largely of the Pamir Mountains. More than 50% of the country in fact lies 10,000 feet above sea level so much of the country sees a cold, alpine climate.
Qatar lies in the south of the Middle East and occupies the small Qatar Peninsula which is bordered on 3 sides by the Persian Gulf. The peninsula, which juts 161 km into the Persian Gulf, is home to very, very hot summers and mild to warm winters. If visiting Qatar, try to visit outside the summer months as you may suffer from heat stroke and sunburn if not used to the summer extremes. Much of the peninsula is a low, barren plain with extensive sand deserts. In the southwest you will find the amazing Khor Al Adaid which translates to âinland seaâ as the extensive rolling sand dunes have an ocean-like appearance. May to September in Qatar is very, very hot and the country sees almost no rain at all. The rest of the year might see occasional showers but these are rare and brief. The winters are warm in the day, cold at night and can be very pleasant and sunny. While normally you could expect more tolerable conditions on the coast, this isnât really the case for Qatar as the water pushes up humidity; combined with high temperatures, this can lead to unbearable conditions.
Yemen lies south of Saudi Arabia and at the south end of the Arabian Peninsula. It can be divided into four separate regions - the western and eastern highlands, the coastal plains of the west and the Rub al Khaliin to the east. The hot lands of Yemen, locally known as the âtihamahâ, are on the flat coastal plain that feature lagoons, despite the fact that the area is largely arid. Around the lagoons are large marshy areas which are often home to malarial mosquitoes, so be sure to take extreme precaution if visiting this part of the country.
Dubai is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It lies on the Arabian Gulf and is fast becoming a very popular tourist destination. The city is home to a very hot and often very humid climate with the thermometer measuring temperatures in excess of 40°C. The Arabian Gulf is shallow and so very warm but still provides a refreshing break in the heat of the day. Rainfall is very light, although it is not uncommon for the rain to fall hard and heavy for a whole day. In fact just recently in January 2008, a record rainfall of 120mm was recorded in just less than 24 hours! Any rain tends to fall between January and March with the rest of the year seeing almost nothing. The humidity in Dubai sits at about 60% though can be higher in the cooler months and less in the summer.