On Earth, the United Arab Emirates boasts the tallest building, the largest artificial island and the biggest shopping mall, which includes an indoor ski resort and a colony of penguins.
Earth, though, has its limits, so the Persian Gulf nation is looking elsewhere.
If all goes as planned, a century from now it will have built a fully functioning city of 600,000 people on Mars.
“We aspire in the coming century to develop science, technology and our youth’s passion for knowledge,” tweeted Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the country’s vice president and prime minister, when he announced the project — known as “Mars 2117” — earlier this year. “This project is driven by that vision.”
The Emirates, as the country is known, has joined an elite club trying to put people on Mars, including the U.S., China, Russia and a consortium of European nations, along with a private effort by the entrepreneur Elon Musk and his California company SpaceX.
The country is grooming a cadre of young scientists and engineers it hopes will collaborate with international scientists and other academics to figure out the best mode of transportation to Mars and options for food and housing once humans arrive.
“We see Mars 2117 as a multinational effort, which would set out to create a coalition of equals working together to fulfill a unified objective,” said Saeed Gergawi, program director of the Mars project.
The proposed settlement doesn’t have a firm name yet, but the City of Wisdom is reportedly one possibility.