Timeframe: When France and the UAE signed the deal for Louvre Abu Dhabi

A model of the Jean Nouvel-designed museum was shown for the first time at the event

President Sheikh Mohamed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the time, attends the event where Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, and Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, France's Culture Minister, signed the Louvre Abu Dhabi agreement. AFP
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Almost 17 years ago, the first steps to one of Abu Dhabi’s most important cultural symbols began with a signing and unveiling event at Emirates Palace on March 6, 2007.

The agreement was signed between the governments of France and Abu Dhabi to build a museum on Saadiyat Island that will hold the Louvre name for 30 years after completion.

“We have decided to create together a museum destined to foster cultural dialogue between East and West by exhibiting works of major importance, spanning all historic periods," said Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, who was France's Minister of Culture at the time.

President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the time, attended the agreement signing alongside Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

At the ceremony French architect Jean Nouvel unveiled a model of what the museum would look like when it was completed.

Louvre Abu Dhabi opened to the public a decade later, on November 17, 2017, with a ceremony attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, as well as King Mohamed VI of Morocco. The ceremony featured a programme of music, arts, dance performances and workshops.

The signing agreement for Louvre Abu Dhabi signalled the emirate’s intent on establishing Saadiyat Island as the cultural focal point of the city.

Seven months earlier, Abu Dhabi signed an agreement to build the Guggenheim Museum on the island. The museum is expected to open in 2025 as it nears completion.

Since its opening, Louvre Abu Dhabi has housed important and historical artefacts and works of art which it has acquired or borrowed from other museums. These include Leonardo da Vinci’s Saint John the Baptist and Auguste Rodin's famed bronze sculpture The Thinker.

The museum has also welcomed many famous visitors over the years including Jordan's King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, tennis star Maria Sharapova and Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody.

“Beyond a classical, western definition of the universal museum, the union of 'Louvre' and 'Abu Dhabi' offers the opportunity to relocate a global narrative of art history," museum director Manuel Rabate wrote in a column for The National.

“Louvre Abu Dhabi is a meeting point geographically and intellectually, situated in a diverse, innovative, future-forward city.”

Updated: February 23, 2024, 6:01 PM