A massive dust storm covered southwestern Saudi Arabia in mid-April 2021. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the Aqua satellite acquired a true-color image of the sandy scene on April 15. The cloud of dust appears to stretch more than 1,200 kilometers (745 mi) from the border with Yemen to the United Arab Emirates and to Oman. The airborne shifting sand is so thick that, for hundreds of miles, it obscures the land below.
This storm sits over the Empty Quarter, or Rub’ al Khali, a rich sand sea stretching over parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Considered “empty” because so few humans inhabit it, this desert contains half as much sand as the entire Sahara Desert and is one of the major sources for dust storms on the Arabian Peninsula.