Shortwave absorption is one of the most important, but the most uncertain, components of direct radiative effect by mineral dust. It has a broad range of estimates from different observational and modeling studies and there is no consensus on the strength of absorption. To elucidate the sensitivity of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) tropical summer rainbelt to a plausible range of uncertainty in dust shortwave absorption, AMIP-style global high resolution (25 km) simulations are conducted with and without dust, using the High-Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM). Simulations with dust comprise three different cases by assuming dust as a very efficient, standard and inefficient absorber. Inter-comparison of these simulations shows that the response of the MENA tropical rainbelt is extremely sensitive to the strength of shortwave absorption. Further analyses reveal that the sensitivity of the rainbelt stems from the sensitivity of the multi-scale circulations that define the rainbelt. The maximum response and sensitivity are predicted over the northern edge of the rainbelt, geographically over Sahel. The sensitivity of the responses over the Sahel, especially that of precipitation, is comparable to the mean state. Locally, the response in precipitation reaches up to 50% of the mean, while dust is assumed to be a very efficient absorber. Taking into account that Sahel has a very high climate variability and is extremely vulnerable to changes in precipitation, the present study suggests the importance of reducing uncertainty in dust shortwave absorption for a better simulation and interpretation of the Sahel climate.