500 meters east of the port of Abu Dhabi is the island of Saadiyat, which is where the Abu Dhabi Louvre opened in November 2017. Extended by land fill, Saadiyat today is home to numerous cultural institutions – the latest being the museum designed by celebrated architect Jean Nouvel. The complex is part of a cooperation deal between the United Arab Emirates and France signed in 2007 – a deal envisaging not only French museum loans, but also the exchange of expertise and the license to use the Louvre’s prestigious name for the next 30 years. After over 10 years for planning and construction, the new museum was inaugurated on 8 November. In 12 galleries and on over 6,000 m2 of floor space spanned by a 180 meter long dome, the Abu Dhabi Louvre is staging what it calls the first exhibition with universal appeal in the Arab world.
For this complex, Jean Nouvel has combined modern architecture with the traditions of Arabian buildings. Housing various exhibitions, detached blocks with flat roofs and lanes between them call to mind an old Arabian town. A domed roof of 7,850 individual metal stars creates a unique atmosphere marked by what the celebrated architect calls a “rain of light” generated by the sun’s rays penetrating the shade-imparting structure.