These NASA photographs capture the explosive growth of Dubai between 2002 and 2008. False-color thermal images of Dubai depict vegetated areas in red, buildings in gray, and the desert in beige. The image on top, taken in October 2002, shows the early stages of construction of Palm Jumeirah, a vast commercial development built by dredging 3.9 billion cubic feet of sand from the gulf and depositing it in the shape of a giant palm tree. The finished look of Palm Jumeirah — which contains shops, hotels, and apartments and is protected from the gulf by 7 miles of rocky breakwater — can be seen in the image on the bottom, released by NASA in 2009.

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