French President Francois Hollande, accompanied by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, on Saturday toured the Louvre Abu Dhabi site, the first universal museum in the Arab world, and reviewed the progress in construction of the cultural landmark.
The French President's tour was part of his visit to the UAE to attend the Conference on Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage, which was jointly organised by the UAE and France under the patronage of UNESCO from the 2nd to 3rd December, 2016, in Abu Dhabi.
HH Sheikh Abdullah welcomed President Hollande to the satellite Louvre, praising the deep bilateral ties which he affirmed had expanded into intellectual, cultural and knowledge sphere.
“The visit was aimed at updating the French President on the latest construction work on the striking and innovative museum. Through the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the UAE and France are seeking to highlight the deep cultural exchange and interaction between civilisations, look at the future and convey a message to generations about the importance of intellectual and knowledge exchange”, HH said.
He expressed his pride at the Emirati-French co-operation in this ambitious cultural project.
Hollande expressed his thanks and appreciation to the curators, developers, artists and architects including the designer of the museum Pritzker Prize winning architect Jean Nouvel. He termed the Louvre Abu Dhabi as an embodiment of the strong ties between the UAE and France.
Some of the masterpieces from the Louvre Paris collections and from other major French museums will be displayed at Louvre Abu Dhabi, he added.
At the end of the visit, the French President and his host Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed unveiled a memorial plaque marking the visit of the Louvre site.
"In culmination of the deep friendship bonds that bind our countries, the United Arab Emirates presents the Louvre Abu Dhabi to the whole humanity to stand as a ray of hope for the unity of the world and to serve as a centre for human heritage, a message for mutual respect among peoples," the president wrote on the plaque.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is scheduled to welcome visitors in 2017. The Louvre Abu Dhabi will feature loaned paintings from 13 French cultural institutions, including Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh and Henri Matisse.
The central display will display relevant and revealing works lining one unique path – the principal route via which visitors will navigate their way through the museum. The journey proceeds chronologically with different civilisations developing in parallel as visitors move forward on a journey through time. This display features four major periods: Archaeology and Birth of Civilisation; Medieval Days and Birth of Islam; Classical Period from Humanism to Enlightenment; and Modern and Contemporary Art, starting at the end of the 18th century.
Visitors will be invited to study the works themselves, compare them, and revel in their unique qualities and meanings. A variety of textual and multimedia resources in multiple languages will place the artworks in context, explain where they come from, and relate rich histories of the objects and artworks.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Prince Aga Khan, designers of the museum Jean Nouvel, Head of the Louvre museum Jean-Luc Martinez, Manuel Rabate, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Deputy Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi Hissa Al Dhaheri, and a number of French officials, delegates and representatives of Abu Dhabu Tourism and Culture Authority, accompanied the French president on the tour.