Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Tuesday announced the Mars 2117 project which aims to build a miniature city on the Red Planet within 100 years.
Sheikh Mohammed, also Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, said the UAE was currently among the world's top nine investors in space science.
In a series of tweets accompanied by photos of what it describes as the planet's first miniature city, he said the 2117 Mars project aimed to build knowledge and scientific capabilities, involving the conversion of local universities into research centres.
The project, launched at the World Government Summit, will focus on parallel research into exploring means of mobility, housing, energy and food as well as speeding up the time it takes to travel to the planet.
"There are no limits to the imagination and aspirations of human beings," he tweeted.
“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,” Sheikh Mohammed added. “The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality.”
The first phase of the project will focus on preparing the human cadres able to achieve scientific breakthrough to facilitate the arrival of humans to the Red Planet in the next decades.
The Mars 2117 Project will start with an Emirati scientific team and will be extended to include international scientists and researchers.
In November, Sheikh Mohammed approved the final designs of the UAE's Mars Hope probe which is scheduled to reach the Red Planet in 2021.
He gave the green light to start manufacturing the probe’s prototypes, the Arab world’s first Mars probe.
The approval came as Sheikh Mohammed inaugurated a new satellite manufacturing facility at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai.
In 2015, Dubai unveiled the blueprints for the first Arab mission to Mars.
The Hope probe is scheduled to leave Earth in 2020 and aims to produce entirely new types of data that will enable scientists to build the first truly holistic models of the Martian atmosphere.
The probe will be the first to study changes in the Martian atmosphere throughout its daily and seasonal cycles.
Hope will be a compact spacecraft the size and weight of a small car. It will blast off in a launcher rocket, then detach and accelerate into deep space.
It will reach a speed of 126,000 kilometres per hour for the 600 million km journey around the sun to Mars, which will take around 200 days.
The probe will orbit the Red Planet until at least 2023, with an option to extend the mission until 2025. It will send back more than 1000 GB of data to be analysed by teams of researchers in the UAE, and shared freely with more than 200 institutions worldwide for the benefit of thousands of space specialists.