It’s Raining Sand in Saudi Arabia

While Riyadh had a brief rainfall a few weeks ago, it was really much more of a teaser. Raindrops slowly trickled down from the sky as if they were being wrung from a wet towel and all too soon there was little to no trace that there had been precipitation. As a result, Riyadh continues to suffer from a drought even in spite of taking spiritual and modern methods for relief.


By spiritual methods, the King called upon the sheiks, imams and religious leaders to gather on certain dates and times with their followers and pray for rain (see an earlier post in regards to this topic:


And by modern methods the meteorological society will send an aircraft up in to the sky on cloudy days. This aircraft will release chemicals into the clouds which are to assist in inducing rain.


To date both methods have not resulted in the desired effect of a good heavy rainfall even though the clouds remain heavy and give every indication that they are bulging with rainwater wishing to be expelled.


The past several days have seen very unusual weather in Riyadh. The clouds appear low and heavy. The air is oppressing. The sky has a continual beige color. Those who are asthmatic are suffering with difficulty in catching their breadth. Instead of releasing rain drops from the sky it has literally been raining sand. The weather has been quite windy and has lifted the sand up into the air. One can hold their hand with the palm up while outside and in no time at all, granules of sand begin to fill the palm.


This sand is also very good at making its way inside the house as well. One must continually dust, mop and vacuum in spite of all efforts to keep windows and doors tightly closed. When my spouse takes off his smaugh after having been outside, he will first shake it off outside due to the dust and sand particles that have settled in to it.


Right now the terrace within the courtyard of my villa looks like a deserted war zone. The patio furniture, swings, pots and plants are completely covered over in a film of sand. The ground is also covered. There is no point in using precious water to rinse it all off until the weather changes for it would get recovered as such within a day or two.


My spouse also shared with me an experience in going out to a men’s dinner at a local estraha during the arid season. Being in the openness of the desert one was even more impacted by the wind and the sand. Although they were inside a contained and air conditioned tent, the sand even managed to land and settle atop food which was being served. Ultimately the dinner was aborted as the food was simply inedible.


I now recall when I first arrived in the Kingdom in 2006 Riyadh suffered an unusual rainy period. Prior to leaving the States my spouse kept telling me to enjoy the rain and the greenery. When we arrived in 2006 with all the rain the area was moist and in full bloom. I teased him about what was he talking about; Riyadh was having more rain than Northern Virginia. Now I understand those words of his all too well.


Nb: (1) After writing this post we had a “teaser” of rain in the evening. But this rain was more like an appetite with light sporadic sprinkles that only last for perhaps 10 minutes. We’re still hoping for a serious downpour.


(2) The image I inserted with this text is actually an image of a sandstorm in China but it gives one an indication of what life is presently like here in Riyadh.


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