2022's biggest events from above: from endless queues to devastating floods

Drones and satellites offer unique views of the changing world

A composite of a village in Rajanpur, Pakistan, before and after the flooding. Reuters / Maxar
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This year, climate change exacerbated natural disasters, the longest-serving British monarch died and the World Cup made the Middle East proud.

All of these moments and more were captured from the skies by satellites or drones.

Take a look at 2022's most impactful events from above.

Expo 2020

UAE satellite KhalifaSat captures new image of Expo 2020 Dubai site before its grand opening on October 1. Photo: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

Expo 2020 Dubai closed its doors in March this year after a six-month run, delayed for a year by Covid-19. The event recorded about 24 million visits.

An image of the site taken by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre's KhalifaSat satellite shows Al Wasl Dome — the world largest 360-degree screen — and more than 1,500 solar panels.

Russia invades Ukraine

On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. Expecting a swift victory, Russian forces were shocked by the fierce resistance of Ukrainians as their troops bogged down on the journey to the capital of Kyiv.

Russia pulled back from the area around Kyiv in April, leaving blasted buildings, traumatised people and hundreds of bodies that Ukraine and its allies say are evidence of war crimes.

The port city of Mariupol was hit particularly hard as residents aided by the military refused to surrender. The last stand took place at the Azovstal steelworks, which was under siege for 80 days

Only a quarter of Mariupol's 431,000 people remain in the city, which remains under Russian control.

A study released last week by the Ukrainian Healthcare Centre found that about 80 per cent of the medical facilities in Mariupol alone have been damaged or destroyed.

More than 15,000 people have gone missing during the war in Ukraine, an official at the International Commission on Missing Persons said.

Ramadan 2022

International visitors returned to Makkah for the first time in two years in April after the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Pilgrims to the holy city were captured on cameras from 1,000 metres above, thanks to Saudi Arabia's security aviation section. The images showed Muslims circling the Kaaba and gathering in squares in the city, nestled between the mountains.

Images capturing the movement of worshippers during Ramadan in Makkah from above are giving those not able to be there a special view. Photo: General Presidency of Haramain

Pakistan flooding

A composite of the Indus river, Pakistan, before and after the flooding. Reuters / Maxar

Pakistan experienced its most severe flooding in recent history in November, with more than 1,700 killed and over a third of the country underwater.

About 33 million people have been affected and 7.9 million displaced from their homes.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister said the flooding was exacerbated by climate change, to which richer nations were contributing far more than poorer ones.

“It's a question of justice that a country that produces 0.8 per cent of the global carbon footprint is the eighth most climate stressed country on the planet,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said.

“This is a global problem demanding global actions.”

World Cup in Qatar

The Middle East held its first World Cup at the end of the year, with Qatar building a series of new stadiums and infrastructure to accommodate fans from around the world.

See the stadiums rise from the desert in the gallery above.

Queen Elizabeth dies

On September 8, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II died at her Scottish home, Balmoral, from what her death certificate described as “old age”.

The queues to see the monarch lying in state snaked around London and were visible from space. About 250,000 people waited up to 35 hours to pay their respects at Westminster Hall.

Her state funeral occurred on September 19, and dignitaries from around the world flew in to pay their respects.

A queue for Queen Elizabeth II's lying in state is visible from space. Photo: Maxar Technologies
Updated: December 26, 2022, 2:30 AM
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