Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, appears as a brightly colored patchwork in this nighttime astronaut photograph. Riyadh’s population has risen dramatically during the last half century, from 150,000 in 1960 to an astounding 5.4 million in 2012.
The brightest lights, apart from those on the old Riyadh Airbase, follow the commercial districts along King Abdullah Road and King Fahd Branch Road. Many of the darker patches within the built area are city parks.
University sectors stand out with different street and light patterns, including the King Saud University campus, which houses the Arabic Language Institute, and the Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University, which is the largest all-female university in the world.
Highways and various ring roads also stand out due to bright, regular lighting. Lighted developments beyond the ring roads mark the growth of the city (image lower left and lower right).
Image courtesy of NASA.