Iconic Musée du Louvre Arrives in Abu Dhabi

It was a historic day on 11th November as Paris’s iconic Musée du Louvre  opened its satellite in the Saadiyat Cultural District of Abu Dhabi. Louvre Abu Dhabi will stand as a symbol of accord and unity between Abu Dhabi and France.

2. Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo Courtesy Mohamed Somji
Courtesy of the Louvre Abu Dhabi


Designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel the building was inspired by Arabic architecture and culture. A series of 55 pristine white buildings consisting of 23 permanent galleries pays homage to the traditional Arabic medina and low-lying Arab settlements.

The project is also based on a prominent symbol of Arab architecture: the dome. The “museum city” sits under a low silver dome almost 180 metres in diameter. The design is constructed of four outer and four inner layers of stainless steel separated by structures of five meters high. A geometric pattern is repeated at varying angles and sizes forcing each ray of light to infiltrate the layers before it enters the building. Thus creating a “rain of light” effect which has been a labour of love and serves as one of the defining features of the building.  The result is a tranquil space to relax, socialise and enjoy.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be in good company. It’s the first of several planned cultural and architectural institutions for Saadiyat Island. We can expect a Guggenheim from Frank Gehry, a performing arts centre from the late Zaha Hadid, a maritime museum from Tadao Ando and a museum of the history of the UAE and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (the driving force in the formation of the UAE) from Norman Foster; all are on course for the region.

4. Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo Courtesy Mohamed Somji
Courtesy of the Louvre Abu Dhabi

What’s in the Collection

Louvre Abu Dhabi emphasises the shared human experience which transcends geography, national identity and history. In contrast to other museums the collections are presented chronologically. Objects from early civilizations as well as world religions are presented together thus illustrating the diverse and yet extraordinary affinity between people and places. 

In the opening year, approximately 300 artworks on long-term loans from 13 key French institutions will be displayed alongside the museum’s permanent collection. They include Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, Claude Monet’s Saint-Lazare station and Edouard Manet’s The Fife Player and Henri Matisse’s Still Life with Magnolia (1941). 

Other notable artworks include one of the finest examples of a standing Bactrian Princess from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, Paul Gauguin’s masterpiece Children Wrestling, René Magritte’s The Subjugated Reader, a 1928 collage by Picasso titled Portrait of a Lady and the earliest known photographic image of a veiled woman. The museum’s own holdings which exceed 600 pieces includes a Piet Mondrian (Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black, 1922) acquired as far back as 2008 – 2009.

With such an exemplary collection, temporary exhibition space, a children’s museum, 200-seater-auditorium, restaurant and café Louvre Abu Dhabi promises to take visitors on an unparalleled historical narrative through art. What an exciting time for Abu Dhabi and what an incredible time for art lovers in the East! Does one need any further encouragement than this to visit Abu Dhabi?

5 things you definitely CANNOT do in Dubai.

There is no denying that Dubai has successfully transitioned from oil rich emirate to metropolitan tourist hotspot. Tourism is now it’s no. 1 source of income. While it may not be for everyone, shopping, restaurants, unparalleled luxury and opportunities for economic betterment attracts tourists and a workforce from all over the world. As the saying goes, “If you want to meet the world, come to London”. Well, as a Londoner who recently visited Dubai, I can tell you the same felt true of Dubai. It’s workforce in particular – hotel staff, shop staff, restaurant staff, drivers add sparkle to what might otherwise feel like a super shiny, playground.

It’s global workforce is one of the most interesting aspect of this desert turned (man-made) oasis. Conversations and interactions were enriched by each person I met who added an interesting perspective to my experience. And they came from all over the world – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Laos, Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal and South America bringing an old world quaintness to a city so determined to appear modern.

Whenever I refer to visiting the Gulf states, I am asked the same questions by eager travellers who would like to get the most out of their trip without breaking the rules. So, here are 5 common travel questions about Dubai answered:

  1. WHAT do you wear?

    Well, if you’re within the confines of your hotel or resort wear ANYTHING – bikinis, strappy tops, shorts, mini skirts, long skirts, sheer tops, ball gown and tiara if you so wish. However, you will need to be more conservative and mindful in public spaces such as malls, souks and public transport. Opt for short sleeved tops instead of strappy tops and keep your skirts and shorts knee length or below. You maybe walking around in a desert but avoid wearing anything too sheer in public spaces. When in doubt my secret weapon is a scarf. Carry one in your handbag and pull it out to cover your shoulders if you feel your attire maybe causing mild offence. It shows respect for local customs and will be received well.

  2. PDA

    This is short and simple – NO. A peck on the cheek is as far as you should go and only with people you know well. Goes without saying – please don’t do this with strangers, especially if they are female! Save your amorous displays of affection for when you’re within the privacy of your hotel room.

  3. Getting Around

    If like me, you love to explore a new place on foot then Dubai is simply not the place. It is far too hot to do so during the day and people seem to love driving. Everything is ostentatious so luxury cars are everywhere. However, I have it on good authority that the Metro system is fantastic – clean, safe and gives breathtaking views of the city. So, don’t forget to hop on a train.

  4. Consumption of Alcohol

    All hotels serve alcohol and are fairly relaxed about this. In fact, Dubai is known for its boozy work brunches. However, outside of the hotels alcohol is not readily available and you should avoid trying to buy it. If you decide to eat at a restaurant that is not attached to a hotel it is very unlikely that they will have a licence to serve alcohol.

  5. Visiting during Ramadan

    During the holy month of Ramadan everyone you meet will be fasting. It is not mentioned or discussed but you can safely assume that they are. Be especially mindful if you happen to visit during this time. It is forbidden to eat and drink in public during the day. Hotels and restaurants have designated areas for visitors offering dining facilities (usually hidden from the public with curtains or blinds). Small places such as coffee shops are all closed until sunset. However, when it’s time to break fast (Iftar) you can feast like a sheikh. Most hotels offer traditional Arabian buffets which break the fast. Be sure to join in!


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