(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) French President Emmanuel Macron will be joining Arab leaders to inaugurate the new Louvre Abu Dhabi in the capital of the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday evening.
The opening comes a decade after France and the UAE agreed to a 30-year partnership initially reported to be worth $1.1 billion, including nearly half a billion dollars for the rights to the Louvre brand alone.
Macron will be among those attending the 1600 GMT ( 4:00pm UAE time) opening, along with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and leaders including Morocco's King Mohammed VI.
The museum will be official inaugurated on November 8 and the public opening is scheduled for 11.
The museum design, by France's Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, conjures up the image of an Arab medina as seen through the eyes of a contemporary cinematographer.
A silver-toned dome with perforated arabesque patterns appears to float over the white galleries, creating what Nouvel describes as a "rain of light".
To reach the ground, each ray of light must cross eight layers of perforations, creating a constantly shifting pattern that mimics the shadows cast by palm trees or the roof of a traditional Arab market.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first of three museums to open on Saadiyat Island, where the UAE plans to launch the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry, and the Norman Foster's Zayed National Museum.
Some five per cent of the museum, which will open to the public on Saturday, is dedicated to contemporary and modern art, including a monumental piece by China's Ai Weiwei.
The main focus, however, is on world history and religions.
Among the exhibits are a sixth century the Holy Book of Quran, a gothic Bible and a Yemeni Torah, facing each other and open at verses carrying the same message.
Jean-Luc Martinez, president of the Louvre in Paris, said the new museum was designed "to open up to others, to understand diversity" in "a multipolar world".
It currently has some 300 pieces on loan, including an 1887 self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferronniere".
The emirate has also spent years quietly building its own permanent collection.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is displaying more than 235 works of art from the Emirati collection, including Edouard Manet's "The Gypsy" and works by Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian and Turkey's Osman Hamdi Bey.
The authorities have put in place strict measures to protect the art from the heat in a country where summer temperatures soar well above 40 degrees Celsius.
The artworks are also guarded by Emirati forces in coordination with French experts.
The project initially sparked heated debate in France, where criticism erupted early on over the sale of a French name to an Arab state.
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