Exterior view of Louvre Abu Dhabi
Exterior view of Louvre Abu Dhabi
Image: Roland Halbe

Perfectly perched on the waterfront in Abu Dhabi’s cultural district on Saadiyat Island, the Louvre Abu Dhabi epitomizes grandeur. From the towering palm trees that line the road of the entrance to the world-class architecture that creates the illusion of a floating oasis, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a breathtaking sight.

Wanted was among a group of media outlets from around the globe that was invited to attend a press tour of the Louvre last Tuesday. After a week of celebratory affairs, the museum officially opened its doors to the public on Saturday night.

The idea of Louvre Abu Dhabi was born in 2007 after a unique agreement between the United Arab Emirates and France, and has been in the making for the past decade.

Speaking at the press tour, Mohamed Khalifa al-Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority said Louvre was so much more than a museum for the UAE.

“Louvre is not just a museum, it is a hub of culture, education and tolerance. This is a museum for the world,” he said.

al-Mubarak said that when the Louvre opened its doors on Saturday, it would be a place where people from all over the world would come and feel connected.

Rain of Light dome
Rain of Light dome
Image: Roland Halbe

Designed by renowned architect, Jean Nouvel the gallery is surrounded by the pristine waters of the gulf, with a picturesque view of Abu Dhabi. But it is undoubtedly the iconic metal dome, which has been weaved together to create a “rain of light” effect that leaves one in awe.

Made out of 7,850 pieces of metal, which have been geometrically weaved together to allow sunlight to filter through, creating an ambience that resemble the overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases.

Nouvel said that when he was first approached to create a design for the museum, in his mind he envisioned designing something surrounded by the desert, and something that faced Abu Dhabi.

He said that it was only when he visited the island that his vision changed.

“I spent many years fighting against the architectural sector because I feel it does not reflect the roots of a place, so I wanted this museum to be a welcoming place. I decided to create a neighbourhood, I wanted it to be a reflection of Abu Dhabi and its spirituality,” said Nouvel.

The Louvre’s art collection, which focuses on the history of the humanity and the different religions of the world, encompasses over 600 iconic pieces, of  which, 300 have been loaned to it from its 13 partner French museums. Some of the pieces on display include a Grecian sphinx from the 6th century, sacred texts from a Quaran and a Gothic Bible.

The Louvre in Paris opened its doors in 1973 and is home to some of the most iconic art in the world including the Mona Lisa.

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