The snow that has blanketed much of the Middle East turned Cairo white on Friday - with local news reports claiming it was Egypt's capital's first snowfall in 112 years.

snow egypt

Snow covers the scene in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula

The city averages less than an inch of rain each year, and hundreds stopped their walk to work or school to snap pictures of the falling flakes, tweeting their delights.

In Jerusalem, local media reported that schools and roads were closed, and transport suspended after four inches of snow - the most since 1953.

Palestinian and Israeli children shaped clusters into snowmen across the divided capital, with boys shrieking with delight as they put the finishing touches to a frosty man outside the gold-domed Al Aqsa mosque.

"Last week, the chief rabbis asked Jews around the world to pray for rain in Israel since winter had begun with a dry spell," Jewish online magazine Tablet reported. "Apparently, it worked."

Snow, sleet and icy winds have covered Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, deepening the troubles of many war refugees, living in freezing tents. Many have melted snow on their stoves, their only source of drinking water.

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  • EGYPT-WEATHER

    Snow covers the scene in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, some 400 kms south-east of Cairo on December 13, 2013. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Palestinians play with the snow in the West Bank village of Seelat Al-Daher near Jenin city, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Early snow has surprised many Israelis and Palestinians as a blustery storm, dubbed Alexa, brought gusty winds, torrential rains and heavy snowfall to parts of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

  • A Palestinian girl makes a snowman in the West Bank village of Seelat Al-Daher near Jenin city, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Early snow has surprised many Israelis and Palestinians as a blustery storm, dubbed Alexa, brought gusty winds, torrential rains and heavy snowfall to parts of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

  • Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, some of the holiest sites for for Jews and Muslims, are covered in snow in Jerusalem, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Early snow has surprised many Israelis and Palestinians as a blustery storm, dubbed Alexa, brought gusty winds, torrential rains and heavy snowfall to parts of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

  • A woman swims in the pool at the David Citadel Hotel during a snowstorm in Jerusalem Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. A snowstorm of rare intensity blanketed the Jerusalem area and parts of the occupied West Bank on Friday, choking off the city and stranding hundreds in vehicles on impassable roads. (AP Photo/Brian Snyder, Pool)

  • Snow covers the city during a snowstorm in Jerusalem Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. A snowstorm of rare intensity blanketed the Jerusalem area and parts of the occupied West Bank on Friday, choking off the city and stranding hundreds in vehicles on impassable roads. (AP Photo/Brian Snyder, Pool)

  • Snow covers the West Bank village of Seelat Al-Daher near Jenin city, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Early snow has surprised many Israelis and Palestinians as a blustery storm, dubbed Alexa, brought gusty winds, torrential rains and heavy snowfall to parts of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

  • Palestinians move the snow from their home roof in the West Bank village of Seelat Al-Daher near Jenin city, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Early snow has surprised many Israelis and Palestinians as a blustery storm, dubbed Alexa, brought gusty winds, torrential rains and heavy snowfall to parts of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

  • A Syrian refugee man removes snow from the roof of his tent in a camp for Syrians who fled their country’s civil war, in the Bekaa valley, eastern Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Syrians at a sprawling refugee camp in northern Jordan scrambled to batten down their tents against torrential rains and high winds as a blustery winter storm battered parts of the Middle East for a second day Thursday. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

  • LEBANON-SYRIA-REFUGEE-WEATHER

    Two Syrian youths carry mattresses to a refugee centre in the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek in the snow-covered Bekaa Valley on December 12, 2013. Thousands of Syrian refugees living in makeshift camps in Lebanon were weathering a winter storm that brought snow, rain and freezing temperatures to the country. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LEBANON-SYRIA-CONFLICT-REFUGEES-WEATHER

    A Syrian refugee shovels snow following a storm in the town of Arsal in the Lebanese Bekaa valley on December 12, 2013. The UNHCR has prepared stockpiles of items including plastic sheeting, floor mats, blankets and mattresses to help refugees whose shelters might be flooded or destroyed by the storm. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LEBANON-SYRIA-CONFLICT-REFUGEES-WEATHER

    A young Syrian plays with snow following a storm in the town of Arsal in the Lebanese Bekaa valley on December 12, 2013. The UNHCR has prepared stockpiles of items including plastic sheeting, floor mats, blankets and mattresses to help refugees whose shelters might be flooded or destroyed by the storm. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LEBANON-SYRIA-CONFLICT-REFUGEES-WEATHER

    Syrian refugees play with snow at the makeshift refugee camp of Terbol near the Bekaa Valley town of Zahleh in eastern Lebanon on December 11, 2013. Lebanese authorities are mobilising to help Syrian refugees living in makeshift camps during winter, as storm 'Alexa' brings several days of rain, snow and a steep drop in temperatures in the east Mediterranean country where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are living in dire conditions. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LEBANON-WEATHER-STORM

    Baalbek's temples are pictured on December 11, 2013 as the Roman ruins of the historic town in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley were covered with snow, following a fierce storm. A winter weather front is forecast to bring several days of rain and snow for the region, and a steep drop in temperature. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LEBANON-WEATHER-STORM

    Baalbek's temples are pictured on December 11, 2013 as the Roman ruins of the historic town in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley were covered with snow, following a fierce storm. A winter weather front is forecast to bring several days of rain and snow for the region, and a steep drop in temperature. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In the early morning, Syrian refugee children warm their hands up with a fire made out of wood in a steel canister in a deserted building where they live with their families during a snowstorm in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Snow blanketed most regions of Jordan, blocking highways in the south, causing power cuts across the capital and closing down schools and government offices. However, the northern parts of the country, including a district hosting the Zaatari Camp for Syrian refugees, only received rain. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

  • Workers of the Amman municipality wearing snow coats walk on a street in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Snow blanketed most regions of Jordan, blocking highways in the south, causing power cuts across the capital and closing down schools and government offices. However, the northern parts of the country, including a district hosting the Zaatari Camp for Syrian refugees, only received rain. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

  • JORDAN-WEATHER

    A man walks in a snow covered street following a storm in Amman on December 12, 2013 as a winter weather front hit the region, bringing early snow and a steep drop in temperatures. A bruising winter storm brought severe weather to the Middle East, forcing the closure of roads and schools and blanketing much of the high altitude areas with snow and ice. AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI (Photo credit should read KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • JORDAN-WEATHER

    A Jordanian family make a snowman following a storm in Amman on December 12, 2013 as a winter weather front hit the region, bringing early snow and a steep drop in temperatures. A bruising winter storm brought severe weather to the Middle East, forcing the closure of roads and schools and blanketing much of the high altitude areas with snow and ice. AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI (Photo credit should read KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Jordanians play with the snow at the University of Jordan's circle during a snowstorm in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Snow blanketed most regions of Jordan, blocking highways in the south, causing power cuts across the capital and closing down schools and government offices. However, the northern parts of the country, including a district hosting the Zaatari Camp for Syrian refugees, only received rain. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

  • Jordanians play with the snow in an open field during a snowstorm in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Snow blanketed most regions of Jordan, blocking highways in the south, causing power cuts across the capital and closing down schools and government offices. However, the northern parts of the country, including a district hosting the Zaatari Camp for Syrian refugees, only received rain. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)