Much of the sediment clouding the water in this image of the Persian Gulf is from the Shatt al Arab River, which enters the Gulf in the north along the Iran-Iraq border. The river drains the combined waters of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers of Iraq, and the Karun River of Iran. Though other rivers empty into the Persian Gulf, most of its fresh water comes from the Shatt al Arab. On the right edge of the image is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea, part of the northern Indian Ocean. The Persian Gulf is flanked to the west by wedge-shaped Kuwait and by Saudi Arabia with its vast tan-, pink-, and white-sand deserts; to the south by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman; and to the east by the dry mountains of Iran. The wetlands and rivers of Mesopotamia border the Gulf on the north. The red dots mark gas flares in oil fields of Iran and Iraq. Image courtesy of NASA.
The Persian Gulf (left) and the Gulf of Oman (right) were once the site of a rift, an area where two plates of the earth's crust pulled apart from each other. The Indian Ocean filled in the widening gap between the two plates. Over time, the process reversed, and about 20 million years ago, the gulfs began to close up. The ongoing collision of the two continental plates resulted in Iran's mountainous terrain (top) and its periodic earthquakes. Several Gulf States are visible across the eastern Arabian Peninsula that makes up the lower part of the image. In addition to Saudi Arabia across the bottom, the islands of Bahrain in the left center lie next to the prominent peninsula that makes up Qatar. Further to the right are various offshore islands of the United Arab Emirates; most of the darker area to the right makes up Oman. Photo courtesy of NASA.
The old and new zones of Doha, the capital city of Qatar, are clearly visible from the International Space Station. The old city comprises the ancient bazaar, or Souq, near the dhow harbor, which is still used today for traditional Arab sailing vessels. Modern port facilities have sprung up to the east of the Souq. Subsequent developments have sprouted progressively further from the ancient center, with ring roads concentrically arranged around it. The diplomatic quarter is reached via the waterfront Corniche promenade, north of the old city. Further away, an extensive marina known as West Bay Lagoon, with boating access to the Persian Gulf, stands out (image top). Qatar's new artificial island, known as the Pearl-Qatar, is under construction with 32 km of new coastline just offshore of West Bay Lagoon. This development is intended mainly as a residential zone, with themes based on Arabic, Mediterranean, and European cultures. The Pearl-Qatar is so named because it is being built on one of Qatar's historical pearl diving sites. A string of small islands built along the outer margin is intended to recall the pearl-diving culture of the nation's past. Image courtesy of NASA.
A massive sandstorm over the Persian Gulf state of Qatar blows southward (to the right) toward southeastern Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in this image photographed from the International Space Station. Image courtesy of NASA.