Emmanuel Macron Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: Within a fortnight, the long wait to the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi will end, with the iconic museum opening its doors to the public on November 11.

The universal museum will share human stories, across cultures and civilisations, and in that spirit, its opening will be marked by the visit of French dignitaries to the capital, including President Emmanuel Macron.

State news media WAM announced that the French head of state is set to grace the museum’s official opening ceremony, which is scheduled for November 8. Other VIP tours will then be scheduled until November 11. A press visit is also planned for November 7.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of a 2007 intergovernmental agreement between the UAE and France. The agreement includes the loan of the Louvre Museum’s name for 30 years and six months, its temporary exhibitions for 15 years, and loans of artwork for a decade. The museum, one of four planned for the capital’s Saadiyat Island, will be the first to open.

The 97,000-square-metre facility has collected more than 600 artworks to date, including Ottoman daggers, Hindu figurines, and works by French painter Edouard Manet and Ottoman art expert Osman Hamdi Bey. Many of these will be exhibited alongside 300 works on loan from 13 leading French institutions that have partnered with Louvre Abu Dhabi, such as the Orsay Museum and modern art institution, Centre Pompidou. Among the loaned artworks are pieces by Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh.

The announcement in September of the museum’s opening date was also attended by numerous dignitaries, including French Minister of Culture, Francoise Nyssen. She said that the Louvre Abu Dhabi marked a milestone in the development of the cooperation between the UAE and France.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also visited the site in September, and were briefed about the final preparation before the opening.

Built to house artwork, the building of the Louvre Abu Dhabi has itself become known as a stunning piece of art on the capital’s landscape. It has been designed by Jean Nouvel, a French architect who has been awarded the Pritzker Prize, a top recognition in the field of architecture. Inspired by the medina (the old walled part of a town) and low-lying Arab settlements, Nouvel designed the Louvre Abu Dhabi as a ‘museum city’ in the sea with its contrasting series of 55 white buildings.

Its highlight is a 180 meter-wide and eight-layered dome that includes a complex pattern created from a geometric design. The dome allows sunlight to penetrate through various angles, creating a ‘rain of light’ effect within the museum.

In addition to art galleries, the Louvre Abu Dhabi also features a temporary exhibition space, a children’s museum, a 200-seater-auditorium, a restaurant, a cafe, and retail space.