The use of vegetation is one of the effective methods to combat the increasing Urban Heat Island (UHI). However, vegetation is steadily decreasing due to urban pressure and increased water stress. This study used air temperature measurements, humidity and an innovative advanced earth system analysis to investigate, at daytime, the relationship between green surfaces, built-up areas and the surface urban heat island (SUHI) in Marrakesh, Morocco, which is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major economic centre and tourist destination. While it is accepted that UHI variation is generally mitigated by the spatial distribution of green spaces and built-up areas, this study shows that bare areas also play a key role in this relationship. The results show a maximum mean land surface temperature difference of 3.98 °C across the different city neighbourhoods, and bare ground had the highest correlation with temperature (r = 0.86). The correlation between the vegetation index and SUHI is decreasing over time, mainly because of the significant changes in the region’s urban planning policy and urban growth. The study represents a relevant overview of the factors impacting SUHI, and it brings a new perspective to what is known so far in the literature, especially in arid climate areas, which have the specificity of large bare areas playing a major role in SUHI mitigation. This research highlights this complex relationship for future sustainable development, especially with the challenges of global warming becoming increasingly critical.