The UAE and France signalled their growing ties after a street leading to Louvre Abu Dhabi was named after former French president Jacques Chirac.
Jacques Chirac Street was unveiled at a ceremony attended by dignitaries from both nations and the late leader's daughter at the Saadiyat Island culture spot on Monday.
The street was inaugurated by Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, in celebration of Chirac's efforts to bolster links between his country and the UAE during his presidency.
Chirac, who died in September aged 86, visited the UAE several times, meeting the Founding Father Sheikh Zayed in 1997 and President Sheikh Khalifa in June 2003.
“Today we gather to honour one of France’s greatest men who filled the cultural gap that existed between nations,” said the UAE ambassador to France, Ali Al Ahmed.
“He believed that nations could unite to collaborate. This was the vision of Jacques Chirac and the Founding Father Sheikh Zayed.”
The newly named street is 4 kilometres long, stretching from Sheikh Khalifa Bridge to Louvre Abu Dhabi, itself a glittering symbol of a significant cultural and political partnership stretching from the Middle East to Europe.
The dazzling dome structure was an architectural marvel 10 years in the making after France approved a deal to allow the UAE museum to use the famous Louvre name back in 2007.
Chirac served as president of France from 1995 to 2007 and was also the country's prime minister on two occasions and Mayor of Paris for 18 years.
“He worked tirelessly towards building a strategic relationship between France and the UAE,” said Ludovic Pouille, the French ambassador to the UAE.
The renowned politician's daughter, Claude Chirac, thanked the UAE for marking her father's legacy.
“My father believed that different nations needed to have dialogue and share their culture,” Ms Chirac said.
“My mother and I would like to thank you for reviving his memory in the Arab world.”
She told The National that the news came to her as a surprise.
“I think that my father must be very happy from where he is, with great humility and much joy.
“I greatly thank the UAE authorities for this decision. It was a great solace for us.”
Ms Chirac later met Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, at a Sea Palace barza in the capital. along with members of Comite Colbert, an association of 84 French luxury houses and 16 cultural institutions
Mohammed Al Ahbabi, chairman of the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, said the street naming ceremony showed the appreciation for Chirac's achievements that exists in the UAE.
“The inauguration of Jacques Chirac Street expresses our leaders’ deep respect for the late president, as well as their appreciation for his stance towards the UAE on a regional and international level, and outstanding achievements in support of peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa,” Mr Al Ahbabi said.
“The naming of the street is deeply symbolic on both a cultural and human level. Through this inauguration, the leaders of the UAE seek to emphasize the importance of cultural exchange and to celebrate and promote peace and tolerance among nations."
The naming of the street also coincides with the second anniversary of the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Since its high-profile launch in 2017, the spectacular attraction has welcomed ore than two million visitors from around the globe.