The Gulf state set up the UAE Space Agency to supervise and finance the "Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) to execute and manage all stages of the Mars probe project," a statement said.
The two entities signed a seven-year partnership agreement Monday, setting the timing as well as legal and financial frameworks for the Mars project, said the statement.
In July the UAE government revealed a plan to create a space agency to drive the project.
It said at the time that UAE investments in space technologies have already topped 20 billion dirhams ($5.44 billion).
The UAE, a seven-emirate federation formed in 1971, will become the ninth country in the world with space programmes to explore the Red Planet, according to the statement.
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Monday attended the signing of an agreement to build the first Arab Islamic probe to reach Mars.
The agreement emphasises the importance of building a national base of research, developing specialised national cadres during the coming years, and the commitment of international partners in conveying all necessary knowledge to the national work team which will, in turn, contribute to building a solid scientific base for developing the UAE space sector.
“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. We say to the people of our region join us in building a new history for our Arab nation,” Shaikh Mohammad said on his social media account.
Upon completion, the probe is expected to reach Mars in nine months, an achievement which will make the UAE one of nine nations around the world with a Mars exploration space programme.
The probe’s estimated time of arrival on Mars, the year 2021, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the UAE.
Space is considered a key factor for economic security, used for satellite communications, broadcasting, meteorology and observing natural disasters.
The UAE’s current national investments in technology-related projects and industry is more than Dh20 billion, which includes Yahsat satellite communications company and Thuraya telecommunications company.
The UAE Space Agency was earlier set up by Shaikh Mohammad for supervising and organising all space activities, developing the sector, ensuring knowledge transfer, enhancing the UAE’s position as a global player in aerospace, and maximising the contribution of space industries to the national economy. The agency will report to the Cabinet and enjoy financial and administrative independence.
The UAE’s purpose is to build Emirati technical and intellectual capabilities in the fields of aerospace and space exploration and to enter the space industry and to make use of space technology in a way that enhances the country’s development plans.