PARIS, 5th July, 2016 (WAM) — The Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Centre was inaugurated today at a special ceremony at the Musee du Louvre in the French capital.
The Centre, located in the Pavillon de l’Horloge, pays tribute to the UAE’s founding father. It will tell the history of the Louvre and will also help to interpret the collections held at the museum to millions of visitors every year and will further strengthen collaboration between the UAE and France, particularly in the cultural field.
Among those attending the inauguration were His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, france’s President Francois Hollande, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, ADTCA, Zaki Nusseibeh, Cultural Adviser of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, and Saif Ghobash, the ADTCA Director-General.
Speeches during the opening ceremony were made by both H.H. Sheikh Abdullah and by President Hollande.
In his speech, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah thanked President Hollande for his warm words, which he said, were a translation of the strong bonds between the leaderships, governments and peoples of the UAE and France. He also conveyed the greetings of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the people of the UAE.
Culture, he said, can unite humanity, reminding us all that there are common denominators that link everyone.
Sheikh Abdullah said, “Today, we are present in one of the most prestigious cultural landmarks in the world, where human culture and those who are looking for inspiration meet”.
Noting the progress in the development of the French-UAE relations in various political, economic and military levels, he added that “today we witness the result of that level of cultural relations between the two countries. We are witnessing the culmination of the growing of this relationship through the opening of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Centre on the history of the collectibles of the Louvre Palace in Paris. This historic event stresses the important humanitarian principle which was outlined by the saying of the late Sheikh Zayed, which says, ‘Educating people is a great wealth that we cherish, as education is a wealth from which we build the future on a scientific basis.'”
Sheikh Abdullah added, ”Based on this fact, the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi was opened in 2006, from where students from 75 nationalities have graduated. Also, our cooperation in cultural relations has witnessed the organisation of exhibitions and participation in art and musical activities in both of the two friendly countries.”
He recalled that in the cinema, France was the guest of honour at the annual Abu Dhabi Festival 2016, during which the Paris Orchestra performed a number of concerts. The UAE had joined the International Organisation of La Francophonie in 2010, he added, to support the organisation’s principles, ideals and objectives at the Francophone and global level.
Sheikh Abdullah went on to praise what he described as one of the most ambitious cultural projects in the 21st century, one that represents the fruit of bilateral cultural ties between the two countries, the forthcoming opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi . This, he noted, is destined to be the premiere museum in the Middle East, including artefacts from major world civilisations while, at the same time, recognising Arab and Gulf culture.
Sheikh Abdullah reiterated, “I am confident at this time, especially when the Middle East region is exposed to tragic and serious incidents which had a bloody effect on France and other countries of the world, that these kinds of strong cultural ties between the two sides will open the way for peoples and cultures across the world to cooperate rather than promote disharmony.”
He said, “There is a wise saying by the French artist Theodore Gericault, who said, ‘The brush can only paint but it is imagination that produces colours.’ The Louvre, is in fact, a domain which urges humans to use their imaginations, it urges us to dream about a beautiful future for the coming generations in the hope that these joint initiatives between France and UAE will inspire them and make them recognise that peace and coexistence are the only options for survival in the international community. It is the best way to safeguard interaction and communication among peoples for the security and stability of the whole world.”
Concluding his speech. Sheikh Abdullah thanked the French Government, led by President Hollande. He also expressed his thanks to the staff of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, French museum agencies, and the staff of the cultural sector at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, ADTCA, who had worked to being the Centre to fruition.
French President also delivered a speech in which, he said, “There is a joint largest cultural project outside France, thousands of kilometers away from here, in Abu Dhabi. I salute the farsightedness of those who launched this project almost ten years ago.”
“Your Highness, your brother His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has a passion for culture and openness, equal to the passion of your late father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayan, who was a great friend of France, and had shown this friendship even in the last years of his life,” he added.
He noted that within a few months, Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum will open its doors. “It will be important to the region, as well as to whole the world, because it is a message of culture, humanity, dialogue and peace. It’s more than just a new global museum that will see light in the region, in the Middle East.”
French President lamented that this great event will take place while in Syria and Iraq people are still being killed and their monuments, and history of their culture are being attacked too.
With a conference in December in Abu Dhabi, he said, there will be a global alliance for culture, peace, dialogue, civilisation, “because we want to defeat terrorism and barbarism.”
He added, “We must to do that by using force. This is what we decided to do on our part. But we should also do it at the political level to get solutions to causes of conflict. This must be done with respect for moral, intellectual, spiritual and cultural requirements.”
Also speaking on the occasion, the Chairman of the ADTCA, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak said, “The presence of the UAE at the heart of the Louvre Paris echoes the spirit of Louvre Abu Dhabi as an unprecedented alliance between both countries, and most importantly, the vision of our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may his soul rest in peace, to build bridges between nations across the world.”
The establishment of the new Centre is fitting tribute to Sheikh Zayed’s own lifelong commitment to heritage and culture. An active supporter of the first archaeological excavations in the Emirates, over 50 years ago, he was responsible for the founding of the Al Ain National Museum, the oldest in the UAE, at the time of the creation of the federation. A believer in international and inter-governmental cultural dialogue, Sheikh Zayed also built cultural connections with countries around the world. The presence of the Centre in the Louvre will help to enhance knowledge of the contribution of Sheikh Zayed to the world cutltural scene.
Located at the Musee du Louvre between Cour Carree and Cour Napoleon, the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Centre has opened its doors after a thorough renovation of the Pavillon de l’Horloge. The Centre tells the story of the French fortress, built by King Philippe Auguste in 1200, which became the residence of the Kings of France. It has now become the world’s most popular museum. The Centre is equipped with the latest media tools such as 3D films, animations, models and more. Visitors will navigate through the ruins of the medieval period, royal chambers and chapel, ending with a section on the future of the Louvre, where a model of the Louvre Abu Dhabi stands alongside other projects such as the Musee du Louvre-Lens, in northern France.
When the Louvre Abu Dhabi opens, 300 works of art loaned by 13 leading French institutions, including the Musee du Louvre, will be displayed alongside its permanent collection to highlight common themes and influences throughout human history. Louvre Abu Dhabi will also host outstanding temporary exhibitions in a dedicated space, a children’s museum, and a research centre.