ISS036-E-025802 (26 July 2013) --- A nighttime view of southwestern Saudi Arabia is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 36 crew member on the International Space Station. In addition to city lights, patchy cloud cover partially obscures and blurs city lights, especially in the vicinity of Khamis Mushait and Abha. While much of the country is lightly populated desert ? and relatively dark at night due to lack of city and roadway lights ? the southwestern coastal region has more moderate climate and several large cities. Three brightly lit urban centers are visible at top left; Jeddah, Mecca, and Taif. Jeddah is the gateway city for Islamic pilgrims going to nearby Mecca (a religious journey known as the hajj). Taif to the east is located on the slopes of the Sarawat Mountains, and provides a summer retreat for the Saudi government from the desert heat of the capital city of Riyadh. Bright yellow-orange lighting marks highways that parallel the trend of the Asir Mountains at center, connecting Mecca to the resort cities of Al Bahah and Abha (lower right). Smaller roadways, lit with blue lights, extend to the west to small cities along the Red Sea coastline. The bright yellow-orange glow of the city of Abha is matched by that of the city of Khamis Mushait (or Khamis Mushayt) to the northeast. The brightly lit ribbon of highway continues onward towards other large cities to the south (Jazan, not shown) and southeast (Najran, not shown).