His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the nation's Prime Minister and Vice President, announced the Mars 2117 Project at the World Government Summit alongside the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
"The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality," said Bin Rashid.
In the maximalist tradition of the UAE, the two princes made the announcement alongside a CGI presentation depicting the infrastructure and mechanisms of the Martian city of the future. They then announced their plans to pour money into universities to turn them into capitals of aerospace research.
Bin Rashid continued that he wanted the UAE to become a world leader in space science because of his belief in the power of human resolve. "Human ambitions have no limits, and whoever looks into the scientific breakthroughs in the current century believes that human abilities can realise the most important human dream," he said.
Bin Zayed added that he wanted to maintain an international focus on the shared human goal of space exploration. "The findings of the project will be available to all international research institutes," he said. The project will begin with UAE scientists before expanding to include a global coalition.
"With the launch of this project, we begin a new journey that will last for decades to come, and it will speed up human endeavors to explore other planets."
The specific goals of the project are to find feasible ways to transport colonists and materials to Mars as well as ensure they have the energy and food needed to survive.
The UAE created a $5.4 billion space agency of their own in 2014. announced the Mars Hope mission in 2015, meant to launch the Arab world's first spacecraft to the Red Planet by 2021.
The World Government Summit, held annually in Dubai since 2012, is meant to "[bring] together prominent leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as international thought leaders and pioneers."