The Challenge will solicit project proposals from diverse disciplines through a next-generation platform called "Guaana", whose innovative model dramatically reduces the time and effort required to fund seed ideas.

The Space Settlement Challenge is the first project of the newly established Mohammed Bin Rashed Centre for Accelerated Research, an initiative of the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).

Dubai Future Foundation's chief executive Khalfan Belhoul said: "The UAE has set itself on an ambitious path to lead the global space race, establishing the first city on Mars as per the 2117 Mars Project. Space research is the logical next step in humanity's search for knowledge and survival, and an advanced means to preserve human cultures, societies and economies. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Settlement Challenge we are launching today is designed to provide support for creative minds, unconventional ideas, innovative designs and research."

The space challenge is composed of three categories, the first of which revolves around Space Settlement - aims to develop plans for locations that could support a thriving sustainable settlement in space accommodating at least 100 people. It explores matters like construction automation, power, food, water, heating and cooling, all the while taking the human factor into consideration.

The second category - Terraforming and Space Ecology - looks into creating liveable long-term environments, formulating strategies for the responsible terraforming of off-planet bodies near the Moon, Mars, asteroids and other orbital habitats.

The third category- Economics, Business Model and Governance - seeks to develop business plans for optimal economics and resource utilization, writing scenarios that identify private-sector partners interested in conducting commercial activities in space. The challenge also seeks to ensure good governance by proposing national policies that promote society's awareness of peaceful settlement in space.