Dubai has the world’s tallest building. But the United Arab Emirates is aiming even higher. (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

The United Arab Emirates, home to the world’s tallest tower, is now reaching for the stars. The energy-rich Middle Eastern country announced plans Wednesday to establish a space program to send the first Arab spaceship to Mars in 2021.

The ruler of the UAE’s emirate of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Maktum, said the mission will prove that the Arab world is still capable of delivering scientific contributions to humanity, despite the many conflicts across the Middle East.

“Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize,” Maktum said in a statement.

The UAE says that its investments in space technologies already exceeds $5 billion. That includes money spent on mobile satellite communications and Earth mapping and observation.

NASA landed two rovers on Mars in 2004 and plans a manned mission in about 20 years.

Associated Press