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United Arab Emirates in bid to be first Arab nation to reach moon

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An H-IIA rocket with the UAE's Mars orbiter "Hope" lifts off from Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima, southern Japan on July 20, 2020.
An H-IIA rocket with the UAE's Mars orbiter "Hope" lifts off from Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima, southern Japan on July 20, 2020.   -   Copyright  Hiroki Yamauchi/AP
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2024, according to the country's prime minister.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the ruler of Dubai, made the announcement on Twitter on Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed's announcement comes after the launch of a Mars probe earlier this year by the UAE, an oil-rich nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

"We have, with the grace of God, launched a new Emirati project to explore the moon. It will be an Emirati-made lunar explorer that will land on the surface of the moon in 2024 in areas not reached by previous human missions to explore it," he posted.

"The lunar explorer will be built 100% on the state's land and by our Emirati engineers," he added.

Sheikh Mohammed said the rover would be named Rashid, the same name of his late father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

If successful in 2024, the UAE could become the fourth nation on the Earth - and the first Arab country - to land a spacecraft on the moon after the US, the Soviet Union and China. India has tried and failed to land a spacecraft, as has Israel and Japan.

The UAE made history on July 20 with the launch of its mission to Mars from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. The 493,500,000 km journey to Mars will take seven months, where the Emirati-built "Hope" probe will study the Red Planet's atmospheric and weather conditions.