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The Louvre Abu Dhabi has opened after a decade long wait



After a ten-year delay, caused in part by a global financial crisis, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will open to the public on November 11.

Located on the island of Saadiyat on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, it is the Louvre's first branch outside France. It is housed under a honeycombed dome of eight layers of Arab-style geometric shapes. It draws the lapping waters of the Persian Gulf into its outer corridors.

At night, light inside pours out against the city's skyline. Looking back and toward the future, encompassing both East and West, is a theme that extends throughout the museum.

Award-winning architect Jean Nouvel designed the modernist building.

"This metaphor of the sky cosmic, cosmographic, with a random system like the stars itself. I imagine that with light through, and I imagine that with not a lot of lighting, just a little bit to create a kind of rain of light," says Nouvel. "So the idea was to create an Arabian agora (an ancient Greek central gathering space), and a place where you come when you come back when you talk about culture, about art, and not a box with an entrance and a classification only."

The project faced intense criticism during construction, over conditions faced by laborers including low pay, long hours and hot conditions. In 2015 a worker was killed while another died of "natural causes" in 2016, according to Abu Dhabi authorities.

Workers who launched strikes over these conditions later faced deportation and confiscation of their work visas, according to a 2015 Human Rights Watch report. Labour strikes are illegal in the UAE.

Andrew Ross, a professor at New York University and a labor specialist, criticised labor conditions for workers in Abu Dhabi and was afterward barred from entering the country.

Ross called government leaders cultural strategy "promotional rhetoric." However, Jean-Luc Martinez, the president-director of the Louvre in Paris, contends the museum spoke "very frankly" about laborer conditions. He describes the museum as a bridge between Asia, Africa, and Europe.

"It's not a European museum, and it's not the European point of view, it's placed to see the world from Abu Dhabi. Of course here we are a bridge between Asia, Africa, and Europe so this meeting point here, this bridge it's very important to understand the world of today," he says.

The museum will feature 23 permanent galleries and over 600 exhibits loaned by the main Louvre in Paris and other French museums according to the Associated Press.

The museum will display artworks such as Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferroniere", Claude Monet's "Saint-Lazare" and Henri Matisse's "Still Life With Magnolia."

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