The long-awaited opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi has been delayed yet again on the eve of an international conference on protecting cultural heritage during conflict co-organised by France and the United Arab Emirate. And the Emirate has denied French President François Hollande the possibility of even a symbolic inauguration ceremony when he is due to make an official visit to Abu Dhabi next week. Technical delays and diplomatic sensitivity will prevent Hollande from taking any credit for the most ambitious cultural project France has ever undertaken in the Middle East.
“There will not be an inauguration” of the site of the Louvre Abu Dhabi during Hollande’s visit to the Emirate, says a spokeswoman for the new museum. No official explanation was given but the building will not be ready before 31 May. Since last summer, delays have arisen with the installation of the huge cupola designed by the architect Jean Nouvel and the water basins. With at least six months required for the stabilisation of the air conditioning and completion of the hang, the museum will probably not be able to open before December 2017. No official date has been given yet.
The news comes as no surprise. But Hollande was keen to proceed with at least a symbolic inauguration of the museum before next year's presidential election in May. The event was due to take place during a conference on terrorism and culture that Hollande proposed to the G7 summit. The conference is scheduled to be held at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi between 1-3 December.
Launched in 2007, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was supposed to open in 2012. But work on the site had not even started then, and the Emiratis were said to be so dissatisfied with the Louvre management that they stopped the contract. It was restarted after Jean-Luc Martinez took over as president of the Louvre and renewed the team in charge.