Arabian Gulf - There were huge grins all round at the Al Mushrif Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi this weekend as NASA released images of the red planet's Aeolis Mons district showing the UAE national flag flying atop a 100ft pole.
"Of course this must be a silly hoax," someone at neighboring Qatar's Ministry of Inter-Galactic Space Travel commented.
"Besides, as eveyone knows it was Qatar nationals who made the first Earth-Mars return trip."
Bruised egos notwithstanding claims that it's just a 'crude' PR stunt have been dismissed by US and British diplomats based in Abu Dhabi who have seen similar aerial shots taken by European Space Agency reconnaissance craft.
These show the UAE'e Emir and his eldest son in NASA-issue space suits standing on the Martian planet's surface next to a highly futuristic-looking space craft.
And the vessel's external livery bears a classic image of the country's national ensign beside the inscription 'KHALIFA 1'.
Commenting on the revelations a NASA Mars specialist said this morning, "There'll be hell to pay for when the truth comes out."