A dust storm swept over the Arabian Peninsula in early February 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image on February 2. This dust storm follows a familiar pattern for this region, with especially thick dust occurring in Saudi Arabia’s southwest. Toward the northeast, the dust thins enough to allow the dark waters of the Persian Gulf to become visible, as well as the tan land of Qatar and Bahrain.
This storm likely draws at least some of its dust from the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter, or Rub’ al Khali. Sprawling over parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, Rub’ al Khali is the largest sand sea on Earth, and it holds about half as much sand as the Sahara Desert.