The United Arab Emirates wants to have the first fully-inhabitable human settlement on Mars within the next century, in order to realise “the most important human dream”.
According to a media statement by the Government of Dubai, the “Mars 2117” project is the realisation of “an old human dream”. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the leader of Dubai, believes that the UAE is already a world-stage player in terms of space technology.
“The new project is a seed that we plant today, and we expect future generations to reap the benefits, driven by its passion to learn to unveil a new knowledge,” he says. “Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality.”
SpaceX chief Elon Musk has already unveiled his own plans to colonise the Red Planet, aiming to have his re-usable Interplanetary Transport System operational within 50 to 100 years.
The UAE stepping in to the arena heralds a new era for space exploration, and the region’s mind-boggling wealth will likely go a long way to contribute to the field of astronomy.
The first step of the programme, says Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is to develop the UAE’s education system, which will then produce a new generation of researchers.
The practical phase of the project will require breakthroughs in faster space travel and habitation on Mars, focusing on food and energy, among other things.
According to Dubai, it will initially be worked on by a team of Emirati researchers, before expanding to welcome international institutions.
In 2015, the UAE signalled its intention to launch the first Arab spacecraft – a Mars probe. The mission is expected to land in 2021.