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Though other rivers empty into the Persian Gulf, most of its fresh water comes from the Shatt al Arab.
On the right edge of the image is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea, part of the northern Indian Ocean.
Stone tools recovered from Jebel Faya in the emirate of Sharjah reveal a settlement of people from Africa some 127,000 years ago and a stone tool used for butchering animals discovered at Jebel Barakah on the Arabian coast suggests an even older habitation from 130,000 years ago.
There is no proof of contact with the outside world at that stage, although in time lively trading links developed with civilisations in Mesopotamia, Iran and the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley.
The UAE's oil reserves are the seventh-largest in the world while its natural gas reserves are the world's seventeenth-largest.
Consequently the country is much less reliant on oil and gas than in previous years and is economically focusing on tourism and business.
Human occupation of the present UAE has been traced back to the emergence of anatomically modern humans from Africa some 125,000 BCE through finds at the Faya-1 site in Mleiha, Sharjah.The municipality of Dubai is the largest city of the Persian Gulf emirate of the same name, and has built a global reputation for large-scale developments and architectural works.Among the most visible of these developments - particularly from the perspective of astronauts onboard the ISS - are three man-made archipelagos.The two Palm Islands - Palm Jumeirah to the left of center, and Palm Jebel Ali, just to the right of center, appear as stylized palm trees when viewed from above.The World Islands (near left edge) evoke a rough map of the world from an air- or space-borne perspective.