Saudis escape to ‘City of Fog’

AL-NAMAS, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — As Saudi Arabia swelters in sizzling desert temperatures, some are escaping to the “City of Fog” — a mountainous oasis of cool where warm clothing is needed even in summer.

Sitting with friends on a picnic blanket, under light rain and a thick, swirling mist in Al-Namas, Abdullah Al-Enizi wears a body-warmer over his traditional white robes to guard against the chill.
The retreat, 2,800 meters above sea level in Saudi Arabia’s rugged south, is in stark contrast to other parts of the vast, largely desert country where summer heat of up to 50 degrees Celsius is an annual challenge.

At Al-Namas, humid monsoon weather keeps temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius, dropping as low as 15 degrees Celsius at night, as fog blocks out the sun over verdant hills.

“It’s 46 degrees in Riyadh and only 20 here, it’s 26 degrees lower,” Al-Enizi said at the holiday destination, about 850 kilometers southwest of the Saudi capital.

“We’re escaping the heat. Here, it’s cool and the rain and fog are here nearly all the time,” the semi-retired Saudi, 45, who drove about 12 hours from Riyadh, added.

Around his group of friends, families enjoy the breeze as their children run around in the fresh air, rather than being cooped up in their air-conditioned houses as usual elsewhere in the country.

Clusters of holidaymakers in raincoats and woolly hats sip Arabic coffee and crowd under umbrellas, while kites flutter in the wind.

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