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UAE Space Agency To Be Set Up For Mars Mission By 2021

From the country that brought you a man-made island shaped like a palm tree and the world's tallest skyscraper comes something even more ambitious: a space agency built from scratch that will send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of its formation, the United Arab Emirates has announced it will lead the Arab world's first mission to another planet, according to Arabian Business.

"The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration," said the UAE's president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. "We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity."

There are no estimates on the cost of the agency and mission, but the oil-rich country has already dropped 20 billion dirhams (approximately $5.9 billion Canadian) on space technologies and satellites, according to The National.

The project will no doubt be a monumental challenge considering Dubai will host the World Expo — which authorities expect will cost $8.4 billion to organize — in 2020, just a year prior to the mission's planned date.

But the country seems to feed off insanely ridiculous challenges, according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president (and prime minister) of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.

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

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