Sweltering Saudis escape to mountainous ‘Metropolis of Fog’

As Saudi Arabia swelters in scorching desert temperatures, some are escaping to the “Metropolis of Fog” — a mountainous oasis of cool the place heat clothes is required even in summer season.

Sitting with mates on a picnic blanket, below gentle rain and a thick, swirling mist in Al-Namas, Abdullah Al-Enizi wears a body-warmer over his conventional white robes to protect towards the coolness.

The retreat, 2,800 metres (9,200 ft) above sea stage in Saudi Arabia’s rugged south, is in stark distinction to different components of the huge, largely desert nation the place summer season warmth of as much as 50 levels Celsius (122 levels Fahrenheit) is an annual problem.

At Al-Namas, humid monsoon climate retains temperatures under 30 levels Celsius (86 levels Fahrenheit), dropping as little as 15 levels Celsius (59 levels Fahrenheit) at evening, as fog blocks out the solar over verdant hills.

“It’s 46 levels in Riyadh and solely 20 right here, it’s 26 levels decrease,” says Al-Enizi on the vacation vacation spot, about 850 kilometres (530 miles) south-west of the Saudi capital.

“We’re escaping the warmth. Right here, it’s cool and the rain and fog are right here almost on a regular basis,” added the semi-retired Saudi, 45, who drove about 12 hours from Riyadh.

Round his group of mates, households benefit from the breeze as their youngsters run round within the contemporary air, reasonably than being cooped up of their air-conditioned homes as common elsewhere within the nation.

Clusters of holidaymakers in raincoats and woolly hats sip Arabic espresso and crowd below umbrellas, whereas kites flutter within the wind.

“Earlier than we got here, we packed all our winter issues!” says Nouf, who didn’t need to give her surname, whereas doing up her daughter’s coat.
Vacationer authorities have constructed a “fog highway” for hikers and cyclists traversing a excessive summit that overlooks the mist-shrouded mountains.

Khalaf Al-Juheiri travelled to Al-Namas along with his spouse and youngsters from Tabuk, in Saudi Arabia’s north, to benefit from the “cool climate”.

“We actually miss this climate when the temperature goes over 40 levels in summer season” in Tabuk, stated the 33-year-old civil servant, overlaying his head towards the rain.

 ‘Go to Saudi’

In 2020, a examine revealed by the Science Advances journal confirmed that the Gulf area has the most popular and most humid local weather on the planet.
Due to international warming, some Gulf cities may turn out to be uninhabitable earlier than the top of this century, consultants say.

Because of its altitude and powerful winds, Al-Namas escapes the worst of the rising warmth, says Hassan Abdullah, a Jordan-based official from the WASM climate expertise firm.

It has turn out to be a prized vacation spot at a time when Saudi authorities, looking for new earnings streams aside from oil, are closely selling home and worldwide tourism.

The ‘Go to Saudi’ promotion is in full swing simply three years after vacationer visas had been first made out there for overseas guests in 2019.

As airplane fares surge after the pandemic, Saudi households spent 80 billion riyals (about 21 billion euros) on home journey final yr, a 30 % improve from 2019, ministry of tourism figures present.

“Summer time is the height vacationer season, going from Could to October,” says Abdullah Al-Shahri, a hotelier at Al-Namas the place winter temperatures generally plunge to zero levels.

On the high of a hill that overlooks the inexperienced valley, Mushabab Al-Omari takes within the view, sitting subsequent to his spouse.

“I’ve been right here almost three months,” says the retiree, “and I’m prepared to remain one other 4 or 5 months if the climate stays like this.”–AFP

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