Pilgrims warned not to perform rituals outside as Jeddah nears 52C

Scorching temperatures in Saudi Arabia force officials of the Two Holy Mosques to warn against activities outdoors during daytime.

JEDDAH // Scorching temperatures in western Saudi Arabia have caused power shortages throughout the region and forced officials of the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina to warn pilgrims and visitors against performing their rituals outdoors during daytime. In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's second-largest city, the thermometer reached a record-high 51.8C on Monday, according to Mansour al Mazroui, the director of the Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Research at King Abdul Aziz University.

Since the start of the year, temperatures in Jeddah have been above average, according to Mr Marzoui, adding: "The Arabian Peninsula, this year, in fact, has faced a relatively warm winter, and most areas have recorded warmer than normal temperatures". Mr al Marzoui said global temperatures between January and April were the hottest on record. He said 2010 could go down as the hottest ever on record worldwide.

"That will be confirmed in the next three months", he said. All this is bad news for already overstretched Saudi power grids. Demand for electricity to power air conditioners has already forced down eight turbines, causing several Saudi cities to lose power, the Saudi Electricity Company said earlier this week in a statement. wmahdi@thenational.ae

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