DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates is planning to create a space program that will send the first Arab spaceship to Mars by the year 2021.
The mission is intended to show the world that Arabs can still make scientific contributions to the world, even though the Middle East is in constant turmoil.
“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration. We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity,” said UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan.
The UAE has traditionally lacked both the scientific and industrial manpower to make such a mission, as its population only amounts to about 8 million people. However, the UAE has huge amounts of oil reserves, which will provide the necessary funding to create a space program.
Out of the seven different emirates that make up the UAE, Abu Dhabi alone has assets that are worth around $800 billion. The emirates want to see their wealth spread out, and not just concentrated in oil. Creating a space program seemed like an ideal route to take, explained UAE’s vice-president Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
“Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize,” said Al Maktoum. “The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward.”
The UAE plans on building an unmanned Mars probe that would reach the planet in 2021. It would take the probe around 9 months to make its 37.5 million mile journey, but it will make the UAE one of only nine countries to ever send a spaceship to Mars.