The interannual rainfall variability derived from the 22 Global Climate Model (GCM) simulations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) for the duration 1979–2000 is analysed and compared with the gridded observed dataset over the Arabian Peninsula. The annual cycle of the rainfall derived from these models is validated for the entire Arabian Peninsula, and separately for its two sub-regions, named northern and southern Arabian Peninsula. The spatial patterns of the rainfall and the mean sea level pressure are analysed to judge the ability of the models to simulate the mean climatology of the Peninsula. This analysis reveals that out of the 22 IPCC AR4 GCM multi-model datasets, only one group (composed of 5 models) is relatively better than all the others in simulating the interannual variability of the wet season rainfall for the northern sub-region, and another group (also composed of 5 models) is likewise for the dry season rainfall climatology of the southern sub-region, compared with the gridded dataset. The above two groups of models tend to fall within one-sigma standard deviation of the mean seasonal rainfall derived from the gridded dataset. Moreover, only one model [CCCMA-CGCM3 (T47) from Canada] is found to be relatively better in simulating the rainfall climatology for both the wet and the dry seasons (i.e. for the northern and the southern sub-regions) simultaneously, compared with the observed data.