United Arab Emirates at night
Geographers like night images of cities because you see immediately so much about the human landscape-things that are difficult or impossible to see in day images. You see where the cities are located and their shape; the brightest light clusters frequently indicate the city centres. In images with a large field of view, you can also see the position and size of cities relative to one another.
In this photograph taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS), the largest cluster of lights is the conurbation ("joined cities") of Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman, with its smaller neighbour Abu Dhabi. These cities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) front onto the Persian Gulf (also known as the Arabian Gulf), and the lights cut off abruptly at the coastline. The bright city centres are located at the coast, indicating that sea trade has been important to the growth of these cities.
Smaller cities include Al Ain, the fourth largest in the UAE, and Fujairah. Major highways join the cities in a brightly lit network, and a faint peppering of lights offshore shows the oil and gas platforms on either side of the Musandam Peninsula. (Note that the view is rotated so that north is to the left.)
Even at night, the spike of the Musandam Peninsula is easy to pick out from the south end of the Persian Gulf. The biggest cities in the UAE are Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Muscat, the capital city of neighbouring Oman, appears at image top centre. By contrast, the almost unpopulated Musandam Peninsula shows very few lights.
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Credit: NASA Earth Observatory