What’s On has details of the creation of the UAE Space Agency and Sheikh Mohammed twitter announcement that the UAE is one step closer to unmanned probe to Mars in 2021.

Earlier this year, the UAE announced that it had jumped into the international space race at full sprint – proclaiming that it would be sending an unmanned spacecraft to Mars by 2021, coinciding with the country’s 50 anniversary.

 ** UAE Space Agency to be created for mission to Mars in 2021 **

 And it seems that promise is one step closer to being realised.

This morning, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced on his twitter account: “I witnessed today with all pride, the first steps towards building the first Arab, Islamic probe to reach Mars.”

“We started today, a seven year journey with a national team; through it we will cross hundreds of millions of miles to build globally competitive Emirati individuals. Building a Mars probe is a national job, a source of Arab pride and addition to human knowledge. We say to the people of our region join us in building a new history for our Arab nation,” he added.

If successful, the UAE will become one of only nine countries with space programmes to explore Mars.

The mission would last from 9 months to a year depending on when the probe, which would travel 37.5 million-miles, is launched.

The country has invested more than $5 billion into space technologies and a space technology sector that includes two satellite communications companies.