$1.3bn to bring Louvre to Gulf


Under the accord, Abu Dhabi will pay $ 525 million for using the Louvre name for 30 years. Of this, $ 195 million will be paid within a month. The new museum is one of the four to be built as part of a “culture district” on Saadiyat Island, the future site of a multibillion-dollar tourist resort just off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and the head of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Sheikh Sultan ibn Tahnoun Al-Nahayan, signed the accord at the Emirates Palace Hotel here. Louvre Abu Dhabi will be a universal museum with exhibits encompassing a diversity of cultures.

“This will empower a new era of international cultural cooperation,” said Sheikh Mohammed ibn Zayed Al-Nahayan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces and chairman of the Executive Council. “In the long run, Louvre Abu Dhabi will become autonomous. It will be a national, regional and international asset allowing all to fully participate in an interconnected global cultural understanding,” he added.

Diplomatic negotiations to bring the Louvre to the Arab world have been taking place for over a year in Abu Dhabi and Paris. Musée du Louvre in Paris has one of the greatest art collections in the world and its miles of galleries range from the treasures of antiquity to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

“We have decided to create together a museum destined to foster cultural dialogue between East and West by exhibiting works of major importance from all the domains of the history of art, spanning all historical periods, including the contemporary, and all geographic regions,” said de Vabres. “Our aim is to jointly realize a major French museum of the 21st century that will be a scientific and cultural benchmark for museums worldwide.”

The project has sparked outrage in France where some 4,650 people — including dozens of museum directors, curators and art historians — have signed a petition in protest. Critics accuse the Louvre of “selling its soul” by loaning out its prized collections overseas.

Designed by award-winning French architect Jean Nouvel, the 24,000 square meter Louvre Abu Dhabi will have 6,000 square meters of galleries devoted to permanent displays and 2,000 square meters for temporary exhibits. It will exhibit major artifacts and works in archaeology, the fine arts and decorative arts.

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