Not content with building the world's tallest building or biggest shopping mall, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is setting its sight on something out of this world: Mars.
The oil-rich country announced Wednesday that it had entered the heated space race to the red planet, with plans to send up an unmanned probe by 2021. UAE also said it would set up a new space agency, as it looks to diversify its economy and build up its technology sector.
"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," UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in a statement.
It will take nine months for the probe to make the more-than 60 million kilometre (37 million mile) journey. The UAE's investments in space technologies exceed 20 billion dirhams ($5.4 billion), according to the government, and a successful mission to Mars would be the first to another planet from the Arab world.