The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, announced Wednesday that it will launch a new program soon to send the first ever Arab mission to space in 2021.
According to the energy-rich Middle Eastern country, which is also home to the world’s tallest building, the new unmanned mission to Mars will mark the first foray into space conducted by an Islamic country. According to local officials, the unmanned spaceship will take nine months to travel more than 37 million miles to Mars, making UAE the first Arab country, and one of nine countries, to launch probes to explore the red planet.
Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's ruler, said that the Mars mission will prove that Arab countries are equipped with the technical expertise to deliver scientific contributions to humanity, despite the region being marred by growing conflicts, Associated Press, or AP, reported.
“Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize,” AP quoted Al Maktoum, who is also UAE’s vice president, as saying in a statement.
The mission will be supervised by a pan-Arab space agency that will report to the cabinet, but would be financially and administratively independent, Gulf News reported, citing the UAE government, adding that the mission would help build regional technical and intellectual capabilities, while enhancing the country’s development plans.
While details about the project's overall cost were unavailable, investments in space technologies, including satellite data, mobile satellite communications and Earth-mapping and observation systems, have already exceeded $5.4 billion, according to the government.
“We aim for the UAE to be among the top countries in the field of aerospace by 2021,” Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.