12 Photos
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.
Three man-made archipelagos near Dubai, United Arab Emirates, are featured in this image from the International Space Station (ISS), flying at 350 km (220 mi) above Earth. The municipality of Dubai is the largest city of the Persian Gulf emirate of the same name, and has built a global reputation for large-scale developments and architectural works. Among the most visible of these developments - particularly from the perspective of astronauts onboard the ISS - are three man-made archipelagos. The two Palm Islands - Palm Jumeirah to the left of center, and Palm Jebel Ali, just to the right of center, appear as stylized palm trees when viewed from above. The World Islands (near left edge) evoke a rough map of the world from an air- or space-borne perspective. Image courtesy of NASA.
The artificial peninsula and islands that make up Palm Jumeirah in Dubai as seen from the International Space Station. This massive earthwork is reclaimed from Dubai's Persian Gulf coast. Advertised as "being visible from the Moon," the palm-shaped structure displays 17 huge fronds framed by an 11-km (7 mi) protective barrier. It is the first of three residential and commercial palm-shaped projects being undertaken in Dubai. Image courtesy of NASA.
The Burj-al-Arab Hotel in Dubai is one of the world's tallest hotels. Its distinctive shape is meant to mimic an Arab dhow (sailing vessel).
View along the causeway leading to the Burj-al-Arab Hotel in Dubai - at 321 m (1,053 ft), it is one of the world's tallest hotels.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. A planned city, Abu Dhabi's rapid development and urbanization have transformed it into a large and developed metropolis. The UAE's hot desert climate insures sunny blue skies throughout the year.
The Emirates Palace is a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi.  Built between 2001 and 2005, the hotel displays a mix of Islamic architectural elements complemented by modern design and construction. The central dome features elaborate geometrical patterns. The color of the building was inspired by different shades of sand in the Arabian Desert. The hotel hosts a 1.2-km long beach.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi was developed through an intergovernmental agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates. The museum presents both ancient and contemporary works of historic, cultural, and sociological interest from around the world. Its design was inspired by the special features of its location: a lagoon island, featuring sand, sea, shade, and light. The museum’s permanent collection comprises some 700 artworks from every period and civilization. Another 300 works are on loan from partner museums.
Abu Dhabi camel.
South and west of Abu Dhabi, vast, rolling sand dunes merge into the Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter). The Rub' al Khali  is a sand desert encompassing the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula, including southern Saudi Arabia, and areas of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The desert covers some 650,000 sq km (250,000 sq mi).
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The largest mosque in the country, it is the key place of worship for daily prayers. During the Muslim festival of Eid, it has been visited by more than 41,000 people in the period of celebration.
Constructed between 1996 and 2007, the Grand Mosque contains design elements borrowed from other Islamic countries, including Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt. Its main axis is rotated about 11° south of true west, aligning it in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Natural materials, such as marble, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals, and ceramics were used in construction due to their long-lasting qualities.