The UAE’s next ambitious project is to build a city on Mars

martian habitat mars colony
300ad/123RF
Stand on the observation deck of the world’s tallest building and you’ll find yourself gazing out over the UAE city of Dubai, a super-modern, gleaming metropolis built slap in the middle of a desert.

The digital telescopes atop the 830-meter-tall Burj Khalifa let you flick between a live view, a night view, and an intriguing “historic view” that shows how the surroundings used to look around 30 years ago when the first of the area’s several hundred skyscrapers started to go up. Yes, that historic view is mostly sand. In every direction.

With that in mind, perhaps the United Arab Emirates’ proposal to build a city on Mars within 100 years doesn’t sound like such a daft idea. After all, with the construction of Dubai and the other Emirates, the UAE has already achieved something remarkable in one of the harshest, hottest, driest, and dustiest environments on our own planet.

UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum revealed the lofty ambition in a series of recent tweets.

“The project, to be named ‘Mars 2117,’ integrates a vision to create a mini-city and community on Mars involving international cooperation,” the prime minister said.

He described the project as “a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge.”

Of course, logistically speaking, building a city on a faraway planet is likely to prove a little more challenging then building one here on Earth, but considering the UAE’s already well-known penchant for grandiose projects, perhaps this place more than any other has some chance of actually pulling it off.

The UAE first revealed its interest in Mars in 2014, following up last year with an announcement that it was working with NASA on a range of space projects, one of which hinted at a joint mission to the red planet.

But the UAE isn’t the only one talking about colonizing Mars. Elon Musk, head of SpaceX, also has grand plans for the planet.

Speaking at a tech event last year, Musk asked, “Do we want a future where we are forever confined to one planet until some eventual extinction event, however far in the future that might occur? Or do we want to … ultimately be out there among the stars, and be among many planets, many star systems? I think the latter is a far more exciting and inspiring future than the former.”

Mars cities aside, the immediate goal is to achieve a manned mission to the distant planet. Besides SpaceX, others showing an interest in getting humans to Mars in the next 20 years include NASA, Japan’s aerospace exploration agency, and China’s national space body.

Mobile

Lyft’s wallet-friendly Shared Saver option arrives in six more U.S. cities

Lyft is expanding its wallet-friendly Shared Saver option to Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle after launching it earlier this year in Denver, New York City, and San Jose.
Emerging Tech

Whose name should we etch on the Mars 2020 rover? NASA wants a vote

Dream of making it to Mars? NASA has opened up a new public outreach program to let people send their names to the Red Planet, as an engraving on a silicon chip launched with the Mars 2020 rover.
Emerging Tech

Las Vegas officials bet big on Elon Musk’s Boring Company

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has just been awarded a $48.6 million contract by Las Vegas to build a high-speed transportation system beneath the city’s enormous convention center, and it could be ready by early 2020.
Cars

Many Uber and Lyft vehicles have open safety recalls, report says

A Consumer Reports survey of roughly 94,000 cars registered with Uber and Lyft in New York City and Seattle found that many had open safety recalls. The rate of open recalls was similar to that of personal cars, however.
News

Has purpose become a punchline? Among startups, the debate rages

Tech companies pledging to do good as they make money hand over fist has become a Silicon Valley punchline, but beneath the jeering, a real debate is playing out among startup founders and the investors who fund them.
Emerging Tech

This guy managed to squeeze an entire game console into a Game Boy cartridge

Popular YouTuber 3DSage has managed to compress an entire mobile games console inside a single original Game Boy cartridge. Check it out in all in its impressively miniaturized glory.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s bipedal delivery robot can walk straight up to your doorstep

Autonomous wheeled delivery robots are seemingly everywhere in 2019. Agility Robotics' Digit robot takes a different approach: It promises to carry out its deliveries while walking on two legs.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use an X-ray laser to create the loudest possible underwater sound

Researchers from Stanford University and the Department of Energy have produced the loudest sound possible to make under water. Here's how they managed to create it — and why they did it.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Huawei updates, Starlink launch, and Pac-Man’s birthday

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the ongoing Huawei saga, Amazon’s social games for workers, Ford's partnership with a robotics company, the Starlink satellite launch, Pac-Man’s birthday, and more.
Emerging Tech

Airbus shows off the futuristic interior of its autonomous flying taxi

Airbus has given us the first look inside its single-seat flying taxi. The absence of controls in the Vahana electric aircraft is a reflection of its autonomous capabilities, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Emerging Tech

I mainlined a bag of liquid vitamins — for science

Healthy people are signing up for treatments that are typically saved for patients stuck in hospital beds. Known as nutrient IV therapy, the treatment entails pumping vitamins, minerals, and fluids directly into the bloodstream, bypassing…
Emerging Tech

Future smart clothes promise to keep you the perfect temperature at all times

Regulating your body temperature can sometimes be tough. Engineers from UC San Diego have developed heating and cooling wearable tech which could be embedded into future smart clothing.
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 aborts marker drop mission

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's mission to drop a reflective marker on the surface of asteroid Ryugu has been aborted. The Japanese team was considering a second touchdown on the asteroid to collect more materials, but this now seems unlikely.
Emerging Tech

Watch live as SpaceX tries, for the third time, to launch 60 Starlink satellites

SpaceX is having another go at launching the first 60 satellites for its ultra-ambitious Starlink internet constellation. Here's how you can tune in live to watch it all go down today.