The United Arab Emirates is planning to build a city on Mars

It sounds like something out of science fiction – a city built on Mars, where colonists live out their lives on the Red Planet.

But the United Arab Emirates says that its plan for a ‘mini-city’ on Mars is very real – and that Emiratis will lead the mission.

‘In the UAE… we believe that we are on the cusp of a new age of exploration,’ Saeed Al Gergawi, Program Director of the Mars 2117 program at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) said this week at a conference in Washington.

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‘A new space race that affects literally every human on Earth.’

The UAE hopes to have built its city within 100 years – as part of the Mars 2117 project, announced in February.

Al Gergawi said that he hoped the project would get young people excited about the possibilities of life off our planet.

He said, ‘In the UAE, we live in a rough neighborhood. Our neighborhood has over 100 million youth with over 35 percent unemployment.’

The UAE aims to launch a space probe called Al Amal (Hope) in 2021 – which will be the first time any Arab state has launched a spacecraft.