Seeing Abu Dhabi’s Louvre up close

One cannot help but be curious about the Louvre in Abu Dhabi when you know that 400 million euros was paid to the French government, primarily for the use of the name for 30 years, in an agreement signed in 2007.

Last year, a 10-year extension was obtained for an additional cost of 165 million euros which means that, for now, we can be sure Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island will be home to the Louvre until 2047 as part of the 25 billion euro tourist and cultural development plan for this natural island.

By then, the other two museums we saw that were under construction—The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and The Sheik Zayed National Museum—will be standing proudly side by side with the Louvre. This set-up reminds me of Museum Island in Berlin and how it somehow set the trend for multiple museums in close proximity to each other.

The largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula is 24,000 square meters in size with 8,000 square meters of galleries. My first impression when I saw the entrance to the Louvre was confusion since its name etched on the wall—white on white—was so simple that I presumed this could not be the main pathway after all the fanfare. But it was. And who am I to question the genius of French architect Jean Nouvel?

The famous web-patterned dome allows the sun to filter through; the overall effect representing rays of sunlight passing through date palm fronds in an oasis. Embedded in the design of the dome are 7,850 aluminum stars of various sizes and it may look so simple to the untrained eye, in photographs you can visualize the intended effect.

On average, this museum gets about 15,000 visitors a day and we were told that surprisingly, it was an unusually “slow” day so we were lucky. Our guide gave us a little over two hours to explore the whole area and I found myself spending most of it in the temporary galleries.

Allow me to share photos of my favorite pieces; I am excited for the promising future of this museum. Who knows, one day I might return and find the “Salvador Mundi” by Leonardo Da Vinci on display?