Double-digit temperatures were considered as cold as it gets in Gulf countries for decades. People would actually laugh about how everyone living in the region considered a temp reading of 18 °C as freezing ... but we can now say the joke's on them.
The past few winters have been pretty harsh in several Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE.
We're talking about countries where the weather now hangs between two extremes, one of which is boiling summer heat and the other is sub-zero winter temps. Yep, minus zero weather is being recorded in the Gulf — aka the region where you can cook eggs outdoors during summer.
The severe change in how winter unfolds in this part of the world is being mapped out by people on social media via posts revealing just how cold the previously mild Gulf winters have become. Here's a closer look at them:
Winters in previous decades were pretty cold in Saudi Arabia but nothing like what we're witnessing in the past three years.
The weather conditions hit their 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 been recording sub-zero temperatures.
Snow has been increasingly hitting cities where it rarely fell before. Rainfall has also been increasing in volume and resulting in huge floods in several areas.
"You feel as if you're in the farthest point of North Canada when you're actually in Tabuk."
"We can't say winters in the kingdom were dry before because there have been a few cold ones but nothing compared to the last four to five years," Lina, a Jeddah resident, told StepFeed.
Things aren't so different in Riyadh this year, Jamal, a 29-year-old Saudi engineer, confirmed in a statement.
"Everyone keeps talking about how winter changed in the country. There's more rain, more floods, more snow and definitely more cold than we've ever experienced before," he said.
This year, unprecedented amounts of snow have been falling in Tabuk and vast areas are blanketed in white. The city has become sort of a tourist attraction for people from all around the kingdom.
I lived in Kuwait across the 90s and though winters were chilly, they were always on the milder side and nothing like what is being reported nowadays.
Years back, it would've been a rare occurrence to see hail falling in the Gulf nation. And now? It's a winter norm.
Temperatures have been dropping below average for winter in the country in the past three years. Though 2019 recorded less rainfall than the year before, it saw temperatures majorly drop, falling to as low as 1°C.
"Winter in Kuwait is no joke."
Rawan has spent 20 winters in Kuwait and says last year was the worst, explaining that the dips in temperatures were unprecedented.
"Temperatures reached one and two degrees at night and this wasn't ever the norm in Kuwait. Growing up I remember winters were quite cold but it has been getting worse in the past three years," she said.
The 32-year-old says winter preparations are now a real part of life in the country.
In 2018, heavy rain and floods left schools suspended and roads in chaos in Dubai.
The UAE and its neighboring countries are bracing for more severe weather extremes especially in winter, a season that was previously overlooked.
Many have never seen anything like this season in specific - especially in the UAE - including Lara, a graphic designer who has lived in the emirate for over 10 years.
"I've lived in Dubai for ten years and this winter is just something else. We used to complain about it being relatively warm throughout the year including in winter but not anymore," she told us.
Changes in weather all year-round are attributed to climate change
The extreme change in the weather recorded across the Gulf and the entire region is certainly one of the effects of climate change.
But despite that, Arab governments aren't doing enough to combat the phenomenon and need to amp up their efforts soon in order to join the fight against global warming.
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.