French president visits Abu Dhabi on Saturday
Abu Dhabi - Francois Hollande will be in the Capital to check on the development of the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Published: Wed 30 Nov 2016, 6:09 AM
Last updated: Wed 30 Nov 2016, 11:52 AM
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, flagged as "the first universal museum in the Arab world", is due to open in 2017 after a decade in the making and five years behind schedule.
French President Francois Hollande will visit the site on Saturday during a trip to the Gulf to attend a conference on protecting endangered heritage.
Under an agreement signed on March 6, 2007 in Abu Dhabi, one of seven United Arab Emirates, France and the UAE agree that many top French museums, including the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay and the Versailles Palace, will loan art to Abu Dhabi as part of a 30-year partnership worth $1.1 billion (941,000 million euros).
The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum was originally scheduled for 2012.
Construction of the museum, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, is scheduled to start the same year on Saadiyat Island, a complex comprising three other museums, including a Guggenheim, luxury hotels, golf courses, marinas and private villas, all of which are to be completed in 2018.
On January 7, 2008, as the global economic crisis approaches, French and Emirati officials seal a deal on the project's timeframe and terms of cooperation.
Construction is formally launched on May 26, 2009 by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The completion date slips first to 2013 and then to 2014. On October 29, 2011 Abu Dhabi announces a third unspecified delay amid a reported scale-down in state projects.
On January 25, 2012, Abu Dhabi says the satellite Louvre will open its doors in 2015, a date confirmed on January 8, 2013 when developers announce that a consortium led by Dubai-based Arabtec Holding will build it for $654 million and that construction would start "immediately".
In October 2014, Abu Dhabi lists 300 works to go on display when the museum opens.
In February 2015, migrant workers are rushing to complete the museum as Human Rights Watch urges the Louvre and Guggenheim museums to pressure the UAE to end worker abuse at the construction site. Workers had carried out an illegal five-day strike in May 2013. Abu Dhabi authorities reject what they term "unfounded conclusions".
A key stage is reached on September 27, 2015 when the last of nearly 4,500 metal stars is placed on the outer layer of the museum's dome. It is expected to open by the end of 2016.
No official opening date has been announced, but in March 2016 the UAE launches a season of events leading up to the inauguration, and, on September 20, it says the museum "will welcome visitors in 2017". Frenchman Manuel Rabate has been named director.