The Golden Sands of the Rub’ al Khali Desert
Some light streaks of dust can be seen blowing across the Persian Gulf, south of Iran (top) and north of Saudi Arabia (center), Qatar (center, peninsula) and the United Arab Emirates (right).
The bright yellow and orange sands of the Rub’ al Khali desert, which translates as Empty Quarter in English, are particularly striking.
The Rub’ al Khali, one of the largest sand deserts in the world, encompasses most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. The desert covers some 650,000 square kilometres.
With summer temperatures up to nearly 55 °C (131 °F) at noon, and dunes taller than the Eiffel Tower—over 330 metres (1,100 ft)—the desert may be the most forbidding environment on Earth.