spaceSpace and Physics

The UAE Wants To Build A City On Mars By 2117


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Some concept art of the Martian city. HH Sheikh Mohammed via Twitter

Last year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) declared that they wanted to build an artificial, full-scale mountain in their territory in order to produce more rainfall. Now, ramping up their ambitions just a tad, they have announced that they fancy building an entirely new city – on Mars.

Sure, other space agencies across the world are still worrying about getting people to the Red Planet in the first place, but the denizens of the megacity of Dubai care not for such trivialities. Emirati engineers have already presented concept art for the Chicago-sized Martian metropolis, one that will aim to be completed by the rather arbitrary date of 2117.


Rather wonderfully, the so-called “City of Wisdom” was rendered in 3D and was made available to visitors to the conspiracy theory-sounding World Government Summit in Dubai earlier this month.

As reported by the Washington Post, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s top official and the vice president of the UAE, declared at the event that “human ambitions have no limits, and whoever looks into the scientific breakthroughs in the current century believes that human abilities can realize the most important human dream.”


A lot of the plans for the Martian city right now are decidedly vague and abstract. Where is it going to be built on Mars, exactly? Will there be any terraforming involved? Will the city be built there or shipped in piece by piece?

Its population capacity will be around 600,000, according to the scientific and research committee manager Saaed Al Gergawi, who spoke to CNBC News at the event.


“We came up with that number because it's like someone going to an exotic island, not everyone can go first, then we get advancement of rocket tech, which makes people move there easily, then the advancement of oxygen tech to make it more earth like, which would incentivize people.”

Well, that’s cleared that up then. Still, they’ve got an entire century to build it, so maybe we should cut them some slack.


These ambitions are all the more impressive considering the UAE only started its very own space agency back in 2014. They’re already planning to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2021 which, if successful, could beat rapidly rising world power China to the post.

“Our region is a cradle of great civilizations,” the sheikh tweeted in 2014. “Given the right tools Arabs, once again, can deliver new scientific contributions to humanity.”


The great thing about space science is that, ultimately, any success is humanity’s success. So, as insanely grand as these plans may be, they’re certainly worth cheering on.


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