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Holiday calendar: Beauty of the Inland Sea

Khor al-Adaid, also known as the Inland Sea, rates as one of the Arabian Peninsula's natural treasures, and it's easy to understand why when you take a look at GeoEye's satellite picture of the scene.

The blue-green water and white sediments combine to create a blossoming flower (or is that a leafy tree?), surrounded by the Arabian desert's swirling sand dunes. Qatar has placed the 9-mile-wide (15-kilometer-wide) tidal lake on the tentative list for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"There is no comparable lagoonal system of this type known elsewhere in the world," according to the site description submitted to UNESCO. "The diverse water quality and bottom substrates create an exceptional variety of aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats of considerable importance for some endangered marine species, particularly turtles and dugongs."

This picture was captured by the GeoEye 1 satellite from a height of 425 miles (684 kilometers) on Feb. 7, 2011, and it's one of the year's featured images from GeoEye, a commercial Earth-imaging company. It also serves as today's offering from the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which turns a spotlight on views of Earth from space every day from now until Christmas.

Check back on Monday for the next treat from the calendar, and click through the previous pictures in the daily series:

Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.