President Macron attends Abu Dhabi Louvre’s official opening

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Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Tourism and Culture Authority, Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, 2nd left, and French President Emmanuel Macron, center, listen to project designer French architect Jean Nouvel, 2nd right, as they visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum during its inauguration in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (Ludovic Marin/Pool photo via AP)
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Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Tourism and Culture Authority, Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, left, project designer French architect Jean Nouvel, center, and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the inauguration of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (Ludovic Marin/Pool photo via AP)
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, 2nd right, Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Tourism and Culture Authority, Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, left, French President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd left, and his wife Brigitte Macron visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum during its inauguration in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (Ludovic Marin/Pool photo via AP)
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A general view shows part of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum designed by French architect Jean Nouvel during its inauguration in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (Ludovic Marin/Pool photo via AP)
Updated 09 November 2017
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President Macron attends Abu Dhabi Louvre’s official opening

DUBAI: The Louvre Abu Dhabi saw its official opening on Wednesday, drawing French President Emmanuel Macron to the Middle East on his first official visit.

Pausing to shake hands on a red carpet lining the all-white path leading to the museum, Macron and France’s First Lady walked side by side with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

Macron, who is also scheduled to hold talks with UAE officials, toured the 12-gallery museum – the first to carry the famed Louvre brand outside France – shortly after touching down in Abu Dhabi, along with the heads of state of Morocco and Afghanistan.

The new museum was a “bridge between civilizations,” he said at the opening. “Those who seek to say that Islam is the destruction of other religions are liars.”
Sheikh Mohammed said: “The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be a meeting point for lovers of art, culture and beauty all around the world. With the opening of this museum, Abu Dhabi has become the capital of art, architecture and mankind’s heritage.”

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. It is the first to the carry the Louvre brand outside of France.

However Jean-Luc Martinez, president-director of the Louvre Museum in Paris, said at an earlier press conference that the Louvre Abu Dhabi was an Emirati museum.

“This is an Emirati project, in keeping with the UAE leaders’ vision of a knowledge movement in the 21st century, and France shares its knowledge,” he said.

The design of the building is the work of by France’s Pritzker prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel.

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 Norman Foster’s Zayed National Museum.

About five percent of the museum, which opens to the public on Saturday, Nov. 11, is dedicated to contemporary and modern art, including a piece by China’s Ai Weiwei.

His 23-foot-high “Fountain of Light” is a spiraling structure draped in crystals inspired by communist plans for a massive monument that never actually saw the light of day.

But the museum’s main focus is world history and religions. Among the exhibits are an early Qur’an, a gothic Bible and a Yemenite Torah, facing each other and open at verses carrying the same message.

Sheikh Mohammed later tweeted: “The dome of the Louvre Abu Dhabi contains a collection of astounding art collated from various cultures over thousands of years. The light it shines beckons civilizations to come together again in this cradle of humanity.”

Martinez said the new museum was designed “to open up to others, to understand diversity” in “a multipolar world.”

There are 300 pieces on loan, including an 1887 self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Belle Ferronniere.”

But the Emirates have also built 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 as summer temperatures soar well above 40 degrees Celsius.

The artworks are also guarded by Emirati forces in coordination with French experts.

The museum is expecting somewhere in the region of 5,000 visitors in the first few days, according to Mohammed Al-Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Culture and Tourism Authority.

“Because this is an international museum, we’re expecting visitors from around the world,” Mubarak had said at a media preview on Tuesday.

“So a museum visitor from China will find something that speaks to her, to her history. A visitor from India will find the same.”




(With AFP)


Mystery Egypt sarcophagus found not to house Alexander the Great’s remains

Mostafa Wazir, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, inspects the site of the newly discovered giant black sarcophagus in Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria, Egypt July 19, 2018 in this handout photo courtesy of the Ministry of Antiquities. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Mystery Egypt sarcophagus found not to house Alexander the Great’s remains

  • The unmarked tomb in Alexandria did not likely belong to any other notable ruler in the Ptolemaic period (332 BC-30 BC) associated with Alexander the Great, or the subsequent Roman era
  • The location of the remains of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC in Babylon, remains a mystery

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt: Egyptian archaeologists on Thursday dashed local hopes that a newly discovered ancient sarcophagus might contain the remains of Alexander the Great, finding instead the mummies of what appeared to be a family of three.
Workmen inadvertently unearthed the approximately 2,000-year-old black granite sealed sarcophagus this month during the construction of an apartment building in the historic Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
The 30-ton coffin is the largest yet found in Alexandria, prompting a swirl of theories in local and international media that it may be the resting place of the ancient Greek ruler who in 331 BC founded the city that still bears his name.
Egypt’s antiquities ministry had vigorously dismissed the chances of finding Alexander’s remains inside the 30-ton sarcophagus and on Thursday its skepticism was vindicated.
“We found the bones of three people, in what looks like a family burial... Unfortunately the mummies inside were not in the best condition and only the bones remain,” Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters at the site.
Waziri said some of the remains had disintegrated because sewage water from a nearby building had leaked into the sarcophagus through a small crack in one of the sides.
The location of the remains of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC in Babylon, remains a mystery.
The sarcophagus in Alexandria is the latest of a series of interesting archaeological finds this year in Egypt that include a 4,400-year-old tomb in Giza and an ancient necropolis in Minya, south of Cairo.
The unmarked tomb in Alexandria did not likely belong to any other notable ruler in the Ptolemaic period (332 BC-30 BC) associated with Alexander the Great, or the subsequent Roman era, Waziri said.
The prospect of opening the long-sealed sarcophagus had stirred fears in Egyptian media that it could unleash a 1,000-year curse.
“We’ve opened it and, thank God, the world has not fallen into darkness, said Waziri.
“I was the first to put my whole head inside the sarcophagus... and here I stand before you ... I am fine.”