Under its honeycombed dome, Louvre Abu Dhabi, set for a grand Saturday opening, offers a glimpse into history of the world and its major religions. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: It's the first Louvre museum to open outside Paris. And all that history and art that testify to great civilisations — they're right here in Abu Dhabi.

On Saturday, the excitement from everyone visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi is palpable.

The iconic museum on Saadiyat Island opened its doors at 10am to the public — though the 1,000 extra tickets released for the opening day were quickly snapped up online, said organisers.

And there's no doubt that Abu Dhabi has just opened a new cultural gem.

Ameena Al Hossani, an Emirati, is proud of the cultural destitation in her country's capital city — where visitors can see the interconnectedness of humanity, the rich cultural and historical offerings and the dialogue of civilisations through art.

What struck this French visitor to the museum was the international character of the Louvre Abu Dhabi — like art genres from three different countries and influences found in the same room.

Louvre Abu Dhabi has a rich collection of Arab and Islamic art as well.

To welcome the first visitors to the museum, two rows of men dressed in traditional Emirati garb and brandishing bamboo sticks faced one another to perform the Al Ayyala, a national dance performed at weddings and other festivities. Festivities will continue throughout the day.

As the opening progresses, festivities will continue to delight the sold-out crowd.

Despite the huge crowd, Soroshi Michelle, an Indian architect, said the one-hour wait to get inside was worth the trouble — as she delighted in the works of masters like Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.

She summed her experience at the new museum: "It's been lovely day." 

American visitor Bill Bragin, a resident of Abu Dhabi for three years, said he was "breathless"... and "incredibly emotional." He considers the opening of this landmark destination as a "historic moment".

"The idea of birth and and the idea of what it means for Abu Dhabi to be a centre of arts and culture is really profoundly personal for me," he added.

Ahmad Moayad, an Iraqi tourist, said he was excited that "Louvre is now somewhere else other an Paris" and lauded the museum for the way it was organised.

He was excited to see the contributions of the Babylonians/Iraqis to human civilization as manifested through art.

One downside of the day, so far: The crowd.

'Somewhere else other than Paris'

Ahmad Moayad, an Iraqi tourist, said he was excited that "Louvre is now somewhere else other than Paris".

Moayad also lauded the museum for the way it was organised... and shared his excitement about the contribution of Babylonian/Iraqi civilization through art.

Moayad said that though the place was crowded on the opening day, he understood that, like him, everybody was excited to be there, adding that the museum can only get "better and better."

US professor, Deborah Williams, can't hide her excitement about the "universality" of the art curation represented in Louvre Abu Dhabi.

"The curation and the way objects and images are speaking to each other is really exciting. In our teaching, we really try to stress a kind of global impulse..."

Opening day fully-booked

Tickets for the first day were already fully-booked online, said organisers.

Dorothy Brune, an American, had been reading about the Louvre Abu Dhabi before she came for a visit. "I'm visiting my daughter here and specifically asked her to arrange my visit at the time for the opening of the Louvre, because I was so excited. What I really love about it is the space that the art work is in. Of course, the art work is amazing...the fact that it's all done chronologically, so you're travelling through time."

American choreographer Lucinda Childs offered surprise performances through the galleries and Emirati oud maestro Faisal Al Saari entertained visitors in the late afternoon.

In the evening, French pyrotechnic wizards Groupe F will perform a lightshow that introduces the various collections of the museum, and Grammy award-winning musician Matthieu Chedid, known as -M- will enthrall the audience with his talent.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of a 2007 inter-governmental agreement between the UAE and France that loans the name of the Louvre for 30 years and six months.

The deal also loans artworks from 13 French institutions to the Louvre Abu Dhabi for a decade, and temporary exhibitions for 15 years.

600 artworks and artefacts

The museum currently has more than 600 artworks and artefacts on display in its 23 galleries, and 12 "chapters".

Its architecture by Jean Nouvel, an award-winning French architect, has also been declared a marvel, with its metallic dome creating mesmerising patterns of light, and the old Arab walled-town-like feeling within the facility.

Dubbed as the first universal museum in the Arab world, Louvre Abu Dhabi offers a glimpse into history of the world and its major religions.

And though the theme is universal it also present Arab and regional art in a historical context.

Hailed as a monument to the global confluence of cultures “that will broadcast tolerance and acceptance” the museum was inaugurated on Wednesday by dignitaries from the UAE and France.

Organisers explained the arrangment of exhibits is deliberately chronological, meant to create a dialogue between pieces from different cultures.

From today, families, schools, art and history enthusiasts can plan a day out visiting the iconic museum and its many different exhibits and workshops.

Following are ticket prices, getting there and other important details. 

Related: A walk through the galleries

Find out how to get there, timings and how to buy tickets in our visitors’ guide below: