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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UAE announces first trip to the moon by an Arab country

Sheikh Mohammed said the mission was part of a strategy to build scientific capabilities. [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 September, 2020

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Even though the UAE is a newcomer to the world of space exploration, it is has already sent a probe to Mars.

The United Arab Emirates announced Tuesday it will launch an unmanned rover to the moon by 2024 as it seeks to expand its space sector.

The Emiratis now have their sights on the moon, according to the UAE's vice president and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

"We have launched a new Emirati project to explore the moon," he said on Twitter on Tuesday. "It will be an Emirati-made lunar rover that will land on the surface of the moon by 2024."

The project marks another first for the UAE, making it the first trip to the moon by an Arab country.

Even though the UAE is a newcomer to the world of space exploration, it is quickly making its mark.

In September 2019, the oil-rich country sent the first Emirati into space as part of a three-member crew that set off on a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan for an eight-day mission.

In July, it launched an unmanned spacecraft from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center bearing the "Hope" probe destined for Mars, in the Arab world's first interplanetary mission.

Sheikh Mohammed also said that the rover is named "Rashid" after his father who is credited with modernising Dubai, and it will cover "areas not yet reached in previous exploration missions".

He added that the lunar mission was part of the country's space strategy to build new knowledge-based and scientific capabilities.

The Dubai Media Office said that the 10-kilogramme rover will be an integral part of efforts to build the first settlement on Mars in 2117.

The UAE's costly space exploration missions come at a time of economic crisis for the country, with low oil prices, the coronavirus crisis, and high-costs of government all contributing to concerns about Abu Dhabi's long-term finances.

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