Dubai, described by some as the jewel of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is one of the most opulent places on Earth. Currently home to the tallest building in the world (the Burj Khalifa), Dubai is now looking to significantly extend its footprint... all the way to Mars.

Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, earlier this week announced plans to build the first inhabitable human settlement on Mars by 2117.

Barring any major medical breakthroughs, most of us won't get to see "Mars Project 2117" in our lifetime but the prospect is exciting nevertheless for future generations.

The objective in the near future, according to bin Zayed, is to develop their educational system so future generations will be able to lead scientific research across various sectors. Initial research will involve an Emiratis team of scientists before eventually extending to include international scientists and researchers, we're told.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Saeed Al Gergawi, manager of the scientific and research committee of the World Government Summit, said the city they envision would be about the size of Chicago with the ability to support around 600,000 citizens - far more people than the 80,000 Elon Musk wants to start his Martian colony with.

Images courtesy Government of Dubai Media Office