From Earth­lings to Mar­tians

The Economic Times - - Breaking Ideas -

Con­ven­tional wis­dom sug­gests that no earth­ling ac­tu­ally wants to be called a Mar­tian, but then times and mores change. Not all earth­lings have the same idea about the red planet ei­ther. Many earth­lings, how­ever, do have a yen to be first. That’s why com­pe­ti­tions of all kinds have abounded on this planet since time im­memo­rial. And now that the uni­verse is our oys­ter, a race to be first in that arena too was in­evitable. So, is it not sur­pris­ing that the United Arab Emi­rates has an­nounced that it will com­plete the first city on Mars ex­actly a cen­tury from now: 2117. The 100-year time frame ap­pears to be al­most un­nec­es­sar­ily gen­er­ous con­sid­er­ing how fast the seven Gulf emi­rates have de­vel­oped since oil was dis­cov­ered just five decades ago. The UAE’s un­beat­able list of re­cent con­struc­tion-re­lated firsts — from the tallest man-made struc­ture on land and the largest mall to the world’s fastest roller­coaster and largest au­to­mated park­ing fa­cil­ity — em­pha­sise its im­mense ca­pac­ity to pull off large projects. Add to that Dubai’s an­nounce­ment last year of build­ing the world’s first “Hap­pi­ness City” com­plete with a “rein­vented ur­ban ecosys­tem” to fol­low up on Abu Dhabi’s first zero-car­bon and zero-waste ini­tia­tive called Mas­dar City, Emi­rati earth­lings cer­tainly ap­pear to be a shoo-in to be­come the first Mar­tians too.

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