The Saudi Building Code

Arabian Peninsula

Climate zones and design wind speeds to impact the kingdom's building design for generations to come

With Saudi Arabia’s intense focus on building and infrastructure over recent years, officials recognized the need to ensure it was growing as safely as possible — and in ways that can withstand climate challenges.


  • The Challenge

    As part of a major update to the Saudi building code, RWDI was retained to provide contoured values for design wind speeds and climate zones for the region that were consistent with the International Building Code and International Energy Conservation Code.

    The goal of applying one set of standards across a region with a wide and challenging range of microclimates was a complex one that would have an impact on the entirety of Saudi Arabia’s built environment for generations to come.

    Challenges were exacerbated by geography. At over two million square kilometers in size, the region covers the vast majority of the Arabian Peninsula. Its landscape is varied and weather observation stations are few and far between. The data was incomplete at best.

  • Our Approach

    RWDI’s engineering and climate analysis teams:

    • Applied meso-scale meteorological modeling to the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula to estimate historical weather in areas between observation stations.
    • Using the output from the meso-scale modeling, carried out a climate analysis using sophisticated models and statistical tools to investigate the historical weather record over many years to help our client understand trends and typical patterns, as well as predict the frequency of the unique wind events.
    • Harnessed our world-leading expertise and resources in Geographic Information Systems to develop a custom set of maps that harmonized all our information geographically.
  • The Outcome

    In early 2020, informed in large part by the exclusive work carried out by RWDI, officials released the 2018 versions of the Saudi Building Code and Energy Conservation Code. This work will be incorporated into a forthcoming unified building code that will cover all seven countries forming the GCC Standardization Organization — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Yemen.