ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, July 16 (UPI) -- The United Arab Emirates announced formation of a space agency Wednesday, and plans to explore Mars by 2021.
The mission will be used to build the technical capabilities of the oil-rich, cash-rich Emirates, already the home of the world's tallest building, in Dubai.
"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 Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, adding, "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."
Investments in space technologies by the United Arab Emirates have already exceeded 20 billion dirhams ($5.45 billion) and include satellites for television, communications and earth mapping, the Emirates' news agency WAM said.
It remains unspecified if the proposed Mars trip will be manned, or if its cost or scientific purpose has been established. The nine-month journey's start will coincide witty the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates' formation.