- Photographs taken by satellite show sandstorm hitting Arabian Peninsula
- Massive dust cloud was believed to be almost as large as the U.S.
- It billowed across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and as far east as India
Incredible satellite images have shown a massive sandstorm almost as large as the United States billowing across the Arabian Peninsula.
The sandstorm wrecked havoc across the area last week, causing traffic accidents, the cancellation of hundreds of flights and triggering breathing difficulties among residents.
Images show the vast sandstorm sweeping its way across Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates and reaching as far east as India and Pakistan over a period of seven days.
On April 1, the sandstorm could be seen enveloping much of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
The following day, it pushed further east to cause flight cancellations in Dubai
By April 4, it was beginning to stretch across the Arabia Sea towards Pakistan and India
A final image taken on April 7 shows much of it had dispersed across the sea while some remained over Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman
It began on April 1, when high winds whipped up the sandstorm in northern Saudi Arabia before it consolidated and began moving southeastward across the peninsula to eventually cover an area almost as large as the United States, Discover Magazine reported.
Along the way it caused chaos across the area's major cities including Riyadh and Dubai, where some locations were reduced to zero visibility, streets turned a shade of orange and schools were forced shut.
The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies said: 'The blowing sand reduced surface visibility to near zero at some locations, disrupting ground transportation, air traffic, and also closing schools.
'Visibility was reduced to 0.1 mile for several hours at Dubai International Airport, which is one of the world’s busiest in terms of volume of flights.'
More than 450 Saudi Arabian Airlines flights were cancelled between Wednesday and Friday - which equals 33 per cent of the carrier's 1,526 scheduled flights, the Saudi Gazette reported.
On top of this, 678 flights were delayed and another 19 rerouted from airports in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.
According to the BBC, strong winds aggravated the problem, causing a 'near complete lack of vision in daylight', the UAE National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology said.
Despite sandstorms being a relatively common occurrence in that part of the world, they are not generally so big and rarely wreak so much havoc.
In this instance, the storm also blew across Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter - the world's second largest desert which reaches into Yemen and Oman.
Many people took to social media to upload the images they had taken of the sandstorm and share their experiences.
The sandstorm swept across much of the Arabian Peninsula, seen here with borders illustrated by the blue lines. Pictured is Saudi Arabia (top left), Yemen (bottom), Oman (right) and the United Arab Emirates (top right)
It also billowed across the Empty Quarter - the world's second largest desert which is located in Saudi Arabia. Here it is pictured by satellite, revealing its distinct sand dune patterns