This view of the Middle East looks northeast from Saudi Arabia to beyond the Persian Gulf. The bright spots in this night scene are a combination of cities (white lights) and oil fields (yellow lights). Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is located in the bottom left of this scene atop a rocky area (brown and reddish-brown). Separating this area from the Persian Gulf is a region covered by yellow and rust-colored sand dunes (the Dahna) that is dotted with oil fields. Along the coast of the Persian Gulf are various cities. The city of Doha in Qatar (the mitten-shaped peninsula jutting into the water) can be seen in the south, followed by the cities of Manama and Dammam, Bahrain, and Jubayl, Saudi Arabia. Near the northern end of the Persian Gulf is Kuwait City, Kuwait.
Various oil fields on land, in the Persian Gulf, and at the foot of the distant Zagros Mountains are visible because of the burning of by-product natural gas at each well. This accounts for the characteristic yellow color of these compared to the white cities. The handle of the Big Dipper can be seen in the distant sky, as can the top of the atmos-phere. Note that overall this region is sparsely populated in comparison with the night view of New York City (slide #5). This is a direct effect of geography as only certain sections of this desert region are suitable for large-scale human habitation. This photograph is slightly out of focus because a longer exposure time was necessary to capture this night scene, during which time the space shuttle kept moving.
December 1990, image STS-35-27-17.