A new city dedicated to researching how mankind could live on Mars was unveiled at the first annual review of the UAE Government’s plans for the future.
Named Mars Scientific City, the Dh500 million project was described by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, as an “extraordinary national project” that would cover 1.9 million square feet and would simulate conditions for human settlement on the Red Planet.
A series of images released on Sheikh Mohammed’s Twitter account showed what seemed to be a series of huge bio domes in a desert setting dedicated to research and long term space exploration and colonisation, including experiments in growing plants.
The project will include laboratories for food, energy and water, as well as agricultural testing and studies about food security.
Laboratories will stimulate the red planet’s terrain and harsh environment through 3-D printing technology and heat and radiation insulation.
The science city will also contain a museum displaying humanity’s greatest space achievements. The walls of the museum will be 3-D printed, using sand from the UAE's deserts.
A team will live in the stimulated red planet city for one year in hopes that the experience will form a reference model for future innovation around sustaining life in a hostile planetary environment.
At the meetings, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said, “The UAE seeks to establish international efforts to develop technologies that benefit humankind, and that establish the foundation of a better future for more generations to come. We also want to consolidate the passion for leadership in science in the UAE, contributing to improving life on earth and to developing innovative solutions to many of our global challenges.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said, “We have great confidence in our national work teams, and Emirates Mars Mission prove that our youth are trustworthy and capable of achieving national ambitions.”
Last year, Sheikh Mohammed spoke of the UAE's vision to build a city on Mars by 2117.
The Mars project is just part of Government’s first annual review of key national development plans, including UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE Centennial in 2071, held in Abu Dhabi and presided over by Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The meeting in Abu Dhabi saw over 400 senior Government officials and members of the Executive Council assess the progress and goals of UAE Vision 2021, and outline the objective for the remaining four years of the plan.
In addition to setting out a foundation for the country by the Centennial in 2071, Ministers discussed a range of measures and new indicatives across all sectors of Government.
Reem Al Hashimy, the Minister of State for International Cooperation and a member of the UAE Cabinet, said she had chaired a meeting on international aid, but that the gathering had: “Covered a whole range of issues.”
“We had sessions in education, health, social development and many more. There is whole range of subject matter which is why it was important to bring in all these entities together across the board from all the different emirates both local and federal government," she said.
The minister described the annual review as “massive” in scale, saying: “I think the most important thing is that it brings everybody together.”
On the objectives for 2021, she said that discussions of its objectives determined that: “We aren’t there yet but we are progressing forward. There is no area which we are behind in or a target that we aren’t going to make and this is why these annual checks are important.”
“We know what the immediate short term objectives are and we are aspirational about where and how we want to have our country reach the levels of prosperity and growth,” she said.
Being able to bring entities from all seven emirates and across both local and Federal Government, the Minister said, was: “A massive testament of the unity of all the different government departments in advancing our strategic goals.”
Announced in March this year, UAE Centennial 2071 was described as being based on the four pillars of education, economy, government development and community cohesion, with the goal of making the UAE the best country in the world by the 100th anniversary of the country’s founding.
Among the proposals was a consultative council to seek the views of young people and a national strategy based developing the UAE’s soft power and its international reputation.
The year 2021 - the 50th anniversary of the UAE - will also see the arrival of the space probe Hope in orbit around Mars, where it will carry out scientific research. The Emirates Mission to Mars will be the first probe sent to the planet by a Muslim country and signals the growing interest in space exploration by the UAE.
The most ambitious of these projects is the objective of human colonisation of Mars by 2117, with a city built by the UAE. Creating a specialist research city dedicated to discovering ways humans could survive on the hostile environment of the Red Planet would be a crucial first step towards this.