Viral video of snowfall in Makkah is fake

Saudi authorities responsible for Kaaba maintenance have labelled the clip as fake

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Claim: A video claims to show snowfall on the main grounds of the Kaaba, or the Grand Mosque of Saudi Arabia, for the first time in history.

Fact: Saudi authorities have refuted the claim, saying the video is doctored.

On 1 January 2023, a video surfaced on social media claiming that the Kaaba in Makkah’s Masjid al-Haram, which is also known as the Great Mosque of Mecca, received snowfall for the first time ever in history.

Soch Fact Check also received the clip on WhatsApp on 1 January 2023.

The video showing snowfall in Mataaf — where Muslim worshippers offer prayers and circumambulate around the Kaaba — immediately went viral, with many people terming it a never-before-seen occurrence and praising God for the miracle, while others termed it a sign of the end of times.

Over 1,000 kilometres away from Makkah, the Al-Jabal and Alkan mountains in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk province were covered with snow.

Fact or Fiction?

Makkah has been experiencing cold weather, with chilly breezes and heavy rainfall. However, monthly records by weather forecasting service AccuWeather clearly show the temperature did not go sub-zero on 1 January 2023 and stayed between a low of 17°C and a high of 29°C, meaning that it was almost impossible to snow.

Furthermore, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) said the video clip “is fake”, according to the English-language Saudi media outlet, Saudi Gazette.

Soch Fact Check also came across two videos from individuals who spoke live from Makkah — including Saudi Arabia-based Pakistani vlogger with a verified YouTube account, Abdul Malik Fareed — and showed that there was no snowfall.

Hussein Al-Qahtani — the spokesperson for the National Center for Meteorology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — has also refuted the claim, saying the video was “incorrect and processed with additional effects”.

The Kingdom’s “largest platform” for weather updates and forecast, @ArabiaWeatherSA, said the occurrence was improbable, “knowing that the temperature in Makkah today reached 30 degrees Celsius, and it is not climatically prepared for snowfall”. The news and communications account of the Emirate of Makkah, @makkahregion, also debunked the viral clip.

Moreover, heavy rainfall could easily be mistaken for snow and is verifiable through tweets from years by the official Twitter account of the Kaaba here, the official Twitter account of the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque — a government agency directly linked to the Prime Minister — here, here, here, here, here, and here, as well as through this photo on Flickr and this video on Dailymotion.

Outlets accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) — such as DFRAC, Newschecker, Factly, NewsMobile, and Newsmeter, also refuted the reports — as did Arab fact-checking outlets Rumors Prevention Authority and UAE Barq.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found the video here, here, here, here, and here on Facebook, with over 28,000, 24,000, 18,000, 10,000, and 8,100, respectively. The clip was uploaded as Reels here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The viral video appeared here, here, here, here, here, and here on Twitter, here, here, and here on verified YouTube channels, and here, here, and here on TikTok. This video, by a verified TikTok account, received over 2,3 million views, 326,400 likes, and 5,300 comments.

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the period from 31 December 2022 to 3 January 2023 using the following search terms:

  • “snowfall makkah”
  • “snowfall mecca”
  • “کعبہ برفباری”
  • “سعودی عرب برف باری”
  • “مکہ برف باری”“”

The first search term turned up 425 Facebook posts and 27 Instagram posts, which gained 57,034 and 69,648 interactions, respectively.

The second search term showed 1,828 and 868 interactions across 76 Facebook and three Instagram posts, respectively.

The third search term yielded 271 Facebook posts and two Instagram posts, which gained 17,672 and 110 interactions, respectively. The fourth search term garnered 1,821 interactions across 26 Facebook posts only.

The fifth term, on the other hand, turned up 1,233 Facebook posts and one Instagram post, which received 73,942 and 1,789 interactions, respectively.

Conclusion: The video of snowfall in Makkah is doctored, as confirmed by multiple Saudi Arabian authorities.


Background image in cover photo: ekrem osmanoglu

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