More than a decade in the making, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors yesterday, bringing the famed name to the Arab world for the first time.
The opening comes a decade after France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to a 30-year partnership initially reported to be worth US$1.1 billion, including nearly half a billion dollars for the rights to the Louvre brand alone.
French President Emmanuel Macron was to be among those attending last night’s opening, along with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other leaders including Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.
The museum design, by France’s Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, conjures up the image of an Arab medina as seen through the eyes of a contemporary cinematographer.
A silver-toned dome with perforated arabesque patterns appears to float over the white galleries, creating what Nouvel describes as a “rain of light.”
To reach the ground, each ray of light must cross eight layers of perforations, creating a constantly shifting pattern that mimics the shadows cast by palm trees or the roof of a traditional Arab market.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first of three museums to open on Saadiyat Island, where the UAE plans to launch the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry, and the Norman Foster’s Zayed National Museum.
About 5 percent of the museum, which is to open to the public on Saturday, is dedicated to contemporary and modern art, including a monumental piece by Ai Weiwei (艾未未).
However, the main focus is on world history and religions.
Among the exhibits are a sixth century Koran, a gothic Bible and a Yemeni Torah, facing each other and open at verses carrying the same message.
Jean-Luc Martinez, president of the Louvre in Paris, said the new museum was designed “to open up to others, to understand diversity” in “a multipolar world.”
It has about 300 pieces on loan, including an 1887 self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronniere.
The Gulf emirate has also spent years quietly building its own permanent collection.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is displaying more than 235 works of art from the Emirati collection, including Edouard Manet’s The Gypsy and works by Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian and Turkey’s Osman Hamdi Bey.
Authorities have put in place strict measures to protect the art from the heat in a nation where summer temperatures soar well above 40°C. The artworks are also guarded by Emirati forces in coordination with French experts.
The project initially sparked heated debate in France, where criticism erupted over the sale of a French name to an Arab state.
Questions of labor rights have also hung over the project, linked to the overall status of migrant workers in the Gulf.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of