The UAE are going to Mars in the future apparently, in a venture called Emirates Mars Mission. Maybe over there in a hundred years they’ll have a theocratic Martian-sheikh-dictator, imprisoning rape victims under adultery laws, giving the death penalty to people on the basis of their sexuality and deporting or handing out four-year prison sentences foreigners with drug addictions, or even having traces of drugs on your clothing.
They’ll probably use an army of slave labour working 21-hour days, like they did to build a plastic shithole metropolis, littered with congested twelve-lane highways, the bodies of migrant workers and verdant golf courses in the middle of the desert. The second they embark on their extraterrestrial journey they’ll confiscate their Earth passport, inform them that if they want to escape their hellish contract they’ll need to get their own spacecraft, that it was their choice to go there anyway, and that they should just give in and grin as a space-bound totalitarian state stamps on their face with UK-made combat boots.
The UAE is one of the least sustainable and most polluted nations on Earth (by many measures: water stress, carbon footprint, rising salinity of seawater, fishery depletion, ecological footprint in global hectares, and air pollution) but is somehow going to get its shit together, entice a couple of investors and magically create a self-sustaining, isolated colony on Mars? I wonder how they’ll ship customized luxury cars and polished marble flooring all those millions of kilometres. Maybe Abu Dhabi will just chuck $20bn at the project – like they did with Dubai during the financial crisis—or maybe they’ll keep letting mafia and terror dollars roll in to fund it. Either way, it’s probably a load of horse shit, looking at the long list of failed projects—most of which were ecological disasters and (personal opinion) aesthetic monstrosities. The images they’ve used for the Mars project are as fantastical and ludicrous as the images of the massive geoengineering projects—featuring hundreds of clumps of rock and sand sitting idly, imported live dolphins from the Solomon Islands and half-shut monorails that don’t connect with the rest of the transport system—and underwater hotels (so people can see all the sea life that’s been destroyed from building all those ridiculous islands from a luxurious hotel room) they planned, a lot of which, unsurprisingly, never materialized.
It’s all big cosmic visions for an country that denies even a sprinkling of human rights and that seems to plan its development like a spoilt child, ignoring all ecological and logical limits. Maybe it’s an escape tactic: once the Earth has been squeezed of its natural resources it will be left to rot, and the UAE’s strange ideological mix of Western neoliberalism and religious fundamentalism will hop on a rocket and flee to other planets.