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Theory and Criticism
 
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
In what a lot of researchers would call a post-oil economy, Gulf cities are going through an unprecedent paradigm.

Ten days ago, Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, announced the completion of the cultural city planning done by SOM. Within this city and for the first time out of USA and Europe, an Arab city will host the new Louvre and the new Guggenheim museums. In addition, two others will be designed by the Lady (Zaha) and Jean Nouvel.

I would argue that this is an excellent example of using resources to allow a transformation towards knowlege as a core value in a globalized world. I would also argue that this will facilitate the begining of a new era for contemporary Arab architecture, where learning creativity from the near context will be a fact for students and young architects. I would highly appreciate your thoughts on those issues.
Best,
Dr. Ali A. Alraouf, University of Bahrain
Ali A. Alraouf
Responses
 
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
I know I might be unfair to say this - but can someone suggest to the Dubai goverment/ decision makers as not to replicate monuments around the world. Why not revitalised the existing historical culture, architecture or etc into a monument that's truly Dubai.

Extensive studies on Middle Eastern Islamic architecture would be a much better platform than replicating cheesy monuments from around the world. I hope the next move is not to have another Ferris wheel in Dubai - please... DON'T!!!
Maya Sanskrit
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
What a chance to stroll around in such unique buldings signed by Zaha Hadid, Franck Gehry, and Tadao Ando, while admiring other masterpieces.

I can only think of two disadvantages to museums sharing their collections around when they have more than what they can put on display at any one time: One is pure selfishness, as I like to go to the Louvre every two weeks as a normal walk to *continue the conversation* I left behind with a painter or whoever depending on the mood of that day, and I might not find him at his place for a while; and the other is concerning scholars who could be annoyed if they have to examine a specific work and discover that it is not where it was expected to be.

Otherwise, think of all the advantages for others.TO BE, we need to project ourselves towards what is foreign and be its continuity. Otherwise we get lost. We build ourselves through the contact, the exchanges with the other. And between the riverside of the same and the other, the bridge is Man.

Regards, Maria de Morais
Maria De Morais
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
Dear Maya,

Just for the sake of clarification, the new museums will be located in Abu Dhabi and not Dubai.

I totally agree with you regarding the shallow process of bringing world landmarks in fake versions to be consumed by tourists and travellers. This is sort of similar to what Umberto Eco called 'The Authentic Fake'.

The case of Abu Dhabi is different in the sense that museums are seen as knowledge centers which eventually will also support the Emirates' economy. I thought I just need to alert you to the fact that we are talking about two different cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Both of them are in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ali A. Alraouf
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is an interesting architectural contribution in the Arab world. It does open dialogue on Art and serves a platform for many aspiring young students. Happy to learn that it is going to be centered in Abu Dhabi vs Dubai. Abu Dhabi shall ignite many travellers to its new museums, and the city adds one more delight.
Shaheen Sultan Dhanji
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
Everyone seems pretty optimistic about this prospect. I am less so. A new museum is a good idea, as is bringing architectural quality, whether the architect is from the region or not. The buying of Culture is something I am less comfortable with. Because the Emirates cannot generate their own and the Arab world in general no longer nurtures its thinkers, artists, film-makers, philosopher, writers, ect., Culture has to be bought and packaged for consumption.

This issue raises a deeper question about identity. "It is crucial that the Islamic world develops a creative and reasoned response to the impact of Western popular culture, which coupled with the dominance of electronic media poses a serious threat to local and national identities and cultures." [His Highness the Aga Khan]

Who will write our history? Will we alway allow ourselves to be defined by others? Let the French keep their Louvre. Let the Muslim world offer the space for freedom to its own artists to so that they can create, in the humanist tradition of Islam, things of beauty that can fill up museums and can enrich our lives.
Shiraz Allibhai
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
Museums which exhibit the local history (the good, bad, ugly + beautiful)etc... will definately enriched the culture of the place, however, there should be also space for new avant garde exhibitions which reflects the changing time and trends. The duality of this time will definately contribute to the development of the culture of the city. That would be the software of the museum.

In terms of the hardware, issues mentioned above like; identity, architectural language and etc. I still think Jean Nouvel's United Arab Embassy is a great success where he managed to capture the essence of islamic louvers's geometry with technology in a contemporary manner.
Maya Sanskrit
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
How interesting it is to see the passionate debates that this matter arises from both sides of the world. What a powerful name Louvre is.

I don't recall (but maybe I am wrong) reading such passionate debates about the stolen pieces of art in Baghdad, although British curators advised about it.

* Our Museums are not for sale* titled the headlines of our newspapers. For those who are against, join the petition on line. Yet the petition is against the sale of the French Museums. As this could be the real debate.

Should cultural policy be done by politicians or by museum curators? Is art an economic power?
How to manage for culture not to be an entertainment, as it will tend to be like most of the TV programs? Culture a merchandising leisure?

Don't think we can prevent politicians to do what they want to, (we have so many sad examples) yet, I think we can draw their attention to other possibilities.

But we must trust on these other possibilities.

Maybe my sources are wrong, but I read that it was the Guggenheim museum that was supposed to *write* Abu Dhabi Historical and Cultural Heritage, not the Louvre.

Anyway I still believe that it is a chance for a wider public to have the possibility to see what they might never have seen and, enjoy it or not.
Nobody is telling you have to like it!
I don't see the Louvre as an authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought. On the contrary, it is a good occasion to question us and ourselves about. And may this be an engine of a new movement - a movida- in this or another country. And that will lead them to give more freedom to the actors of their own art and culture.

Why see confrontation when there is exchange?

Endless debate but let it go on.
But since it has been going for already a few months, at this moment I prefer to concentrate my energy on other projects. Like helping Palestinian people, to have their modern art museum. And if there is a petition which needs and is worth more than a three thousand signatures is the one asking for permission, to the State of Israel, of building it,
as the museum cannot be build without Israel's permission, for they have occupied the territory.
The whole project would cost around 20 million dollars, which is nothing compared to the Guggenheim. Yet it is a very ambitious project not only for the money it costs, considering the country, but also for its significance.

Cheers, Maria de Morais
Maria De Morais
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
well said, will our passionate discussion get anywhere? Hopefully... It is unfortunate that no one can influence the political decision makers up there...
Maya Sanskrit
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
The big museams were created by Republics to showoff their ratched power over money and conservation.Its very dull to store worldwide collections in one place and instead a hundred smaller museums sprawled allover ME Region is better investment in collection and culture and creates more art lovers more labels more auctions more cultural jobs and prodigical sence in coming years....
Besides today there are two kinds of Art for collection [ Used up Muslim Sultanate Collectibles and The Yet to present Cubism as accomplished, because the 'space' was actually conquered in 1983 and the presenter is not racially european but A Shrew Pathan Muslim ]the fact today with art is 'rendering it further' practically.
Sher Saddozai
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
I like the concept of Vendor Machine Global Collection at Airports .Railway Stations .Shopping Malls ' throw a penny and watch collections" plus vendor tips top names or go by category!
Sher Saddozai
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
I'm simply amazed at the rate of development that is going about in the UAE let it be Dubai or Abu Dhabi for that matter.
My only question is that for all this development is meant for whom? The people of UAE or the world?
There's no doubt that when you start designing, building and constructing monuments/buildings that are enourmous is scale or 'unique' or even 'replicas' you are defineatly opening your self to criticism, praise and what not. Globalisation does inturn at the end of the day streamlines our culture, architecture, economy and even our way of living and thoughts. Is that what we really want? What happen to diversity and being unique? My only fear is that in this race of egocentric, one might loose the very thing that you've hope to preserved is that the integrity of being human in which we could just relate to each other on the simplest scale of things
Eleena Nasreen A. Bakar Effendie
New Louvre in Abu Dhabi
The Emirs are doing a great job with buying sports ,clubs,restaurants,architecture,broadcast telivision ,landscapeing,even ice palaces 'all european strictly 'that means they are building a International Society...since Minnie hasnt met little Araby then maybe Walid the top arab entrepruener in nyork purchased the disney land for nothing!
Sher Saddozai
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