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| 07 November, 2017

INTERVIEW- New museums will follow opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi - UAE official

Tourism chief says new Louvre is a ‘cultural project’, not just a tourism attraction

People are seen at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017. Picture taken November 6, 2017.  REUTERS/Satish Kumar

People are seen at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017. Picture taken November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

The UAE capital will see several new museums in the near future besides Louvre Abu Dhabi, a UAE official said ahead of the grand opening of the high-profile project.

“We have started work on Al Hosn Palace museum. At the end of this year, we will start construction on Sheikh Zayed National Museum which is the museum on the history of UAE, so we will see many museums in the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism told Zawya on Monday.

“Louvre Abu Dhabi is neither the first nor the last one in the UAE. We should not forget about the already existing museums in the UAE, like Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Muwaiji museum,” he added in Arabic.

The long-awaited Louvre Abu Dhabi has been built on Saadiyat Island as one of several entities of the Cultural District set to appeal to global tourists, including the existing arts and cultural centre, ‘Manarat Al Saadiyat’, plus the proposed Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

The Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) is the tourism asset management arm of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism. It is also the master developer of Saadiyat Island.

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“We annually see growth in [the] tourism sector in the UAE with strong figures unfolding, especially from India and China, and other countries as well,” Al Mubarak said.

“A project as significant as the Louvre will increase the touristic activities available in the UAE. But Louvre Abu Dhabi is more than a tourist attraction, it is a cultural project,” he added.

Another high-profile museum in the emirate is Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, announced following an agreement with New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, with work starting in 2011 to be suspended afterwards with no timeline on the plans of the project currently available.

What distinguishes Louvre Abu Dhabi from museums all over the world is its message, according to Al Mubarak, and the fact that it is a universal in many aspects.

“Any visitor who comes to Louvre Abu Dhabi sees part of his history and culture, whether it is a tourist from China, a resident from Lebanon or Egypt or a tourist from India, will see a glimpse of his history and culture and more importantly will see how his culture and history interconnects with cultures from all over the world,” he said.

“Louvre Abu Dhabi is more than a museum, in my opinion. It is a centre of education, world cultures, tolerance, and acceptance of other. When we see the artworks in the museum, this is the key message that emerges,” said Al Mubarak.

On his favourite artwork in the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Al Mubarak struggled to pick a favourite.

“Every day, I see a painting or a relic in the museum and I love it even more than before. Today, for instance, we have seen artworks from Emirati history, a 4,000 year-old bronze dagger from Al Ain. We see Ain Ghazal Statue from Jordan museum, an axe from [a] Saudi museum.

“We also see as a loan from Louvre Paris, the (bust) of Alexander the Great. So our museum showcases significant artworks and pieces from all over the world,”

On the overall cost estimate of the Louvre project,  Al Mubarak said: “We do not place a price tag on culture… culture is for eternity and for the future generations…We have not issued any figures on the cost of the project.”

© ZAWYA 2017