Western Asia and Middle East
The terms ‘Western Asia’ and ‘Middle East’ are synonymous and describe countries mostly located on the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian Peninsula has a terrain mainly comprised of desert and plateaux with high temperatures and low rainfall. A majority of Western Asia contains low lying relief with some mountainous areas in Yemen. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers dissect the lowland belt in Iraq, flowing down into the Persian Gulf. Rub'al KhaLi is one of the largest sand deserts in the world, stretching across the lower third of the Arabian Peninsula. The area is prone to high winds which can generate powerful sand storms that can lift sand thousands of metres high. The last fifty years has seen the Arab Gulf states become some of the richest countries in the world thanks to the exploitation of the vast oil resources in the region.