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Climate & when to go

Naturally enough, tourist brochures warn visitors away from the intensely hot summer months (early June to mid-September), when the sea is flat and vaporous, the cold tap runs hot and even the grass is too peppery to walk on. Yet, in many ways, this is the most character-full time of the year – when you realise the importance of a wind tower or a well in the desert, shade from the Tree of Life or a headscarf to keep out the hot, dry winds of a dust storm. Even the humble cardigan in the over-air- conditioned malls takes on a new meaning when it is heading up to 50°C in the car park outside.

If braving the most extreme that heat and humidity can muster doesn’t appeal, the best time to visit is November to March, avoiding Ramadan and Eid holidays, when an influx of Saudi tourists can make it hard to find a room.