First Arab spaceship to Mars plans to lift off within 10 years

Cyclists ride their bikes past Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, during the fourth and last stage of the Dubai Cycling Tour 2014 Feb. 8, 2014, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The United Arab Emirates, already home to the world's tallest tower, is now reaching for the stars, with plans to send the first Arab spaceship to Mars in 2021.

The energy-rich country on the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula announced plans Wednesday to establish a space program to oversee the undertaking.

Prime Minister and Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum says the mission will highlight the Arab world's positive contribution to humanity, despite the many conflicts across the Middle East.

A Cabinet statement says the unmanned space probe is also aimed at diversifying the country's economy and building up its local talent in the fields of technology and aerospace.