21/03/2012 16:10 GMT | Updated 21/03/2012 16:23 GMT

Sandstorm Over Middle East Caught By Satellites (PICTURES)

Incredible photographs caught by satellites from the European Space Agency (ESA) and Nasa show the massive scale of the sandstorm that blanketed the Middle East earlier this month.

The storm, which swept across Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, Oman and Bahrain, covered hundreds of kilometres, causing problems in the region for weeks.

Captured by the ESA's Envisat satellite and two Nasa satellites, the photos show the scale of the sandstorm, which shut down airports and resulted in poor visibility across entire countries.

Schools were closed in Saudi Arabia, with hundreds complaining of respiratory difficulties.

The sandstorm, which was caused by high winds being whipped up into dust plumes, originated in Rub' al Khali, or the Empty Quarter, a vast stretch of desert in Saudi Arabia.

The storm then spread north, blanketing Qatar and southern parts of Iraq and Iran before spreading to the rest of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.

More recently, the satellites show the sandstorm heading east, out over the Arabian Sea and towards southwest Asia, India and Pakistan.

See all of the photos the satellite captured below