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Update from Riyadh: Bitter Cold, Rain, Wind and Cloudy Skies Accompanied President Bush's 'Red Carpet' Ceremonies in the Middle East - Bill Koenig

When President Bush visited with the Israelis, there were mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s. However, when he was received by the Arab leaders, there was bitter cold, rain and winds that affected most of his "red-carpet welcome" ceremonies and numerous other activities.

Israel and Middle East Leaders

Wednesday, January 9:

President Bush arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel, to a red-carpet welcome during mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the high 50s.

Thursday, January 10:

President Bush's travel plans to get to his meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were thwarted by a very rare London-style fog in Jerusalem and in Ramallah. Rather than taking Marine One for a 15-minute helicopter ride, he was forced to take a 45-minute ride in his 45-car-and-SUV security caravan.

Once in Ramallah, where he received a red carpet welcome by President Mahmoud Abbas, the temperature was in the low to mid-20s, windy and cloudy. When the press briefing was completed, the sun came out.

Friday, January 11:

President Bush departed Israel on a very sunny and beautiful day in Israel after touring Yad Vashem and Capernaum. The temperature was in the 50s.

Friday, January 11:

President Bush received a red-carpet welcome from the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in Kuwait as the thermostat continued dropping. Prior to his departure the next day the weather was extremely cold.

Light snow fell in Baghdad early on Friday in what weather officials said was the first time in about a 100 years. Temperatures plunged to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (zero degrees Centigrade) and even colder.

Saturday, January 12:

President Bush received a red-carpet welcome from Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa at his palace in Manama, Bahrain, during a very cold and windy day.

Sunday, January 13:

President Bush received a red-carpet welcome from President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, during a rainy and dreary day.

Monday, January 14:

President Bush received a red-carpet welcome from King Abdullah at the international airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the midst of bitter cold, brisk winds and temperatures in the low 20s. The welcome ceremony was rapidly moved inside after President Bush deplaned from Air Force One and the Saudi band played the US and Saudi national anthems.

Tuesday, January 15:

President Bush awoke to snow flurries in Riyadh. He traveled to King Abdullah’s ranch with temperatures in the high 30s and wind. The overnight temperature is forecast for 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).

Additional records and reports during President Bush's Middle East visit:

  • There was snow in Baghdad for the first time in 100 years.
  • Lebanon's temperatures dropped below freezing levels across the country, including the coast.
  • Freezing cold brought life to a standstill in Lebanese villages, while municipalities struggled to clear snow from roads.
  • In the Bekaa Valley of Syria, the temperature dropped to levels not witnessed since the 1960s.