The Sun has a curious report today on Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family. The paper informs us that the billionaire sheikh had workmen carve his name, Hamad, in capital letters into an island he owns in the United Arab Emirates called Al Futaisi, without elaborating on when the name was inscribed, how it was accomplished, or how The Sun learned of the exploit. The paper reports that the name is so massive--we're talking two miles across, with each letter over half a mile high--that it's visible from space. Indeed, it is. To get a sense of just how gigantic this thing is, here's a view of both Abu Dhabi and Al Futaisi captured by Google Earth's satellites in 2009 (we've inserted an arrow to Hamad's name):
Zoom in a little closer and you'll see this post's lead image. Zoom in still closer and you get this:
We'll forgive you if you have some questions. For example, don't names scrawled in sand wash away? The Daily Mail explains that the letters form waterways that "absorb the encroaching tide" (check out the "M" above). Or you might ask why Sheikh Hamad chose to write his name in Roman letters rather than in Arabic. Was it to make sure everyone in space knew who he was? Perhaps. But The Financial Times' Tom Gara has another explanation: "Not a lot of straight lines in Arabic." Gara adds that that Hamad halted the project "temporarily, halfway through (rumour is other royals weren't happy). For a while on Google Earth, it just said 'HAM.'"