Abu Dhabi’s cultural gem: The Louvre

Abu Dhabi has long been the less glitzy, next door neighbour of Dubai, but now with the stunning new Louvre which opened in November last year it is bringing in visitors by the droves. This billion dollar museum, a collaboration between the French and UAE government, has taken ten years to complete. The aim being to put Abu Dhabi firmly on the cultural map.

Architect Jean Nouvel’s passion is museums, with the Louvre being his latest creation. The 590-foot wide structure open to the air on all sides, has an interlaced honeycombed dome like rooftop (weighing more than 7,500 tonnes), and is surrounded by water from different aspects so you feel like you are floating. In Jean Nouvel’s words, “I take my inspiration from the locality. Here, I looked at the way that light filters through the roof of a souk or the leaves of a palm tree.” His other wonders include the Quai Branly in Paris, the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, and the extension to MoMA in New York.

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The different galleries within the museum consisted of art works borrowed from the Louvre in Paris and from museums all over the world, including antiquities, sculptures, contemporary art, Indian miniatures, Gandhara statues and Japanese art too – not to mention Picasso, Degas, Raza, Rothko and many more. The piece de resistance being Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvatore Mundi bought for a record $450million from Christies for the museum.

I found the museum an oasis of calm in the midst of the desert, literally! The feeling of space, beauty and sheer genius that you are surrounded by made one feel it was a privilege to be there.

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(The Louvre, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi)

By Diane Bilimoria, London

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