Abstract In this paper, the severe dust event of 3–8 July 2009 in the Middle East is simulated using the WRF–DuMo model. To improve the model capacity in dust emission estimates, the effect of soil salt on threshold friction velocity for wind erosion is taken into consideration. A soil-salt propagation map and the other input parameters are compiled based on remote sensing and a Geographic Information System. The satellite images and synoptic data are used for the validation of the model results. Synoptic analysis is done for the Middle East and the synoptic systems for the severe dust event are identified. Comparison of the model results with the observed data shows that in the Aral–Caspian Sea area, central Iran and the Dead Sea Basin, dust emission is suppressed due to the high soil-salt content. The model shows better performances when the soil-salt effect is considered.