mars UAE
July 16, 2014

Mars Probe May Be In United Arab Emirates’ Future

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

On Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates announced plans to establish a space program and send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021 – the first such announcement by an Arab country.

The Persian Gulf nation is famously fueled by the petroleum industry and is currently home to the world’s tallest building. Prime Minister and Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said one of the mission’s objectives is to emphasize the positive contributions that the Arab world can make to all of humanity.

“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, according to Reuters.

While the country still lacks significant infrastructure to launch a mission to Mars, the UAE may be looking to diversify its economy into more of an emphasis of technology sectors, which would be bolstered by a major space exploration endeavor.

The country does have two major airlines – Emirates and Etihad – but those airlines use planes manufactured by American and European companies, although Airbus currently has a manufacturing facility outside of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

The Arab nation has also invested billions of dollars in numerous data and communications satellite endeavors, including the earth mapping and observation firm Dubai Sat.

"The UAE’s purpose is to build Emirati technical and intellectual capabilities in the fields of aerospace and space exploration and to enter the space industry and to make use of space technology in a way that enhances the country’s development plans," Sheikh Khalifa said, according to the Emirates news agency (WAM).

"We aim for the UAE to be among the top countries in the field of aerospace by 2021. We have a great belief in Allah and in the talents of our young people. We have the strongest determination, the greatest ambitions, and a clear plan to reach our targets," he added.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said the UAE Space Agency would build up the space exploration sector, facilitate knowledge transfer and maximize the contribution of space industries to the Emirati economy. The agency will enjoy financial and administrative independence, but report to the UAE cabinet – the vice president of the UAE added.

"Despite all the tensions and the conflicts across the Middle East, we have proved today how positive a contribution the Arab people can make to humanity through great achievements, given the right circumstances and ingredients,” he said. “Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize.”

"We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us. The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward," he added.

Both the US and Europe currently have major operations involving unmanned probes on the Red Planet. The announcement of the UAE program means there are currently nine countries with space programs looking to explore Mars.