Louvre construction will kick off Saadiyat island transformation

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum will also be located on the island, with all due to be completed by 2017.

The moment building begins on the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi will mark a major milestone in the development of Saadiyat Island as a cultural destination.
Having a branch of the prestigious museum is an achievement in itself, but this building is part of an even larger scheme.
It is the first of a trio of hugely exciting projects that will put the capital firmly on the map in the world of arts and culture. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum will join it, with all due to be completed by 2017.
The innovative buildings will be the centrepieces for the prestigious Saadiyat Cultural District, which is being built by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) on the island of 27 square kilometres.
An Executive Council statement, issued nearly a year ago, said these museums would help Abu Dhabi to become a world-class tourist destination, and the news that construction of the Louvre will start immediately brings the plan a step closer.
It is also a welcome boost for a scheme that has long faced delays. All three museums were initially expected to be finished by next year.
But in January last year a new timetable was issued - three months after TDIC said construction had stalled.
The importance and popularity of the museums was apparent when the world-renowned architects behind them appeared at Abu Dhabi Art Fair in November. Many were turned away and there was standing room only as about 1,000 people gathered.
Jean Nouvel, the Frenchman who designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: "I'm very proud to participate in the materialisation of this golden age, and this pushes us to go higher and beyond and further, because we are doing something that the whole world is looking at."
The architect of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Frank Gehry, said his museum was "the hope for the future" because the art to be shown there would be collected from artists all over the world.
Other plans for the island include a campus for New York University, homes for 145,000 people and, most likely, a shopping centre.
"You have the biggest three museums in the world and that will bring a lot of tourists to Abu Dhabi," said Ahmed Al Fahim, TDIC's executive director of sales and leasing, at last year's Cityscape Global exhibition in Dubai. "We are looking at developing a mall on Saadiyat next to the museums."
Last year also saw a series of events that contributed to TDIC's ambition.
"The cultural initiatives of Saadiyat Cultural District carried out in 2012 have contributed greatly to the goal of establishing Saadiyat Island and Abu Dhabi's legacy as the cultural destination of the future," said Nicola Ure, senior cultural projects manager at TDIC.
ecleland@thenational.ae

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