Can you import the Louvre? The real estate boom and the UAE's 'cultural renaissance'
A cultural renaissance is emerging in the UAE. Having achieved the status of being of one of the world’s most recognised destinations for business, leisure and property, the country is making its mark on the map for its cultural tourism.
its cultural architecture through the opening of waterfront museums, galleries and heritage districts, the UAE is in turn diversifying its real estate market — one of the economy’s key drivers — and facilitating global cultural exchange.
To begin with, in a half-billion-dollar makeover for Abu Dhabi, The Louvre Abu Dhabi will open its doors in December 2015. Conjuring up visions of knowledge and culture, The Louvre is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous museums, home to great works such as the Mona Lisa. The only country in the world to step forward and offer a counterpoint to the iconic museum — a product of the 18th century enlightenment — Abu Dhabi will be home to the first international branch. Pulitzer-winning architects have started work on the design of the ‘museum city’. The building’s geometric lace dome has been inspired by the interlaced palm leaves traditionally used as roofing material, resulting in an enchanting rain of light. Located in the Saadiyat Cultural district and covering a staggering 64,000sqm, The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be flanked by the Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, offer a global vision of the history of world art and establish a strong relationship between the Musée du Louvre — the greatest museums located in Paris — and the emirate.
Last week, the Dubai government approved Meraas Holding’s new creek front project, being developed at an estimated cost of Dh2 billion. With a floating market, hotels, restaurants, art galleries and shops for Emirati handicrafts, the development is yet another step towards transforming Dubai into a cultural hub that attracts creative artists and reflects its traditional identity. Earlier this week, the government announced that Dubai will soon become an ‘open air gallery’, with striking installations, photography, sculptures and street art installed in popular spots across the city. Focused on bringing together the country’s best artists, the project titled ‘Dubai Speaks to You’, the inaugural initiative of Brand Dubai, will be run in collaboration with property developers such as Nakheel, Meydan, Emaar, Dubai Holding and Meraas Holding and contemporary artists. By ensuring that prime locations across the city are available for artists to work on, the project is expected to project Dubai as not just a real estate superstar but also a rich cultural mosaic.
In April, a Dh184 million plan to turn six metro stations into art galleries and decorate bridges and underpasses was revealed. The project will see the Burjuman Station transform into a music and art gallery, Emirates Towers Station turn into an Islamic decoration and manuscripts gallery, the Financial Centre Station house an Islamic numismatics gallery, the Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall Station get converted into an e-library and the Business Bay Station turn into a photo gallery. Additionally, the Noor Bank Station will house the Museum of Contemporary Art and feature a diverse collection of artifacts, paintings, sculptures and collectables reflecting expressive styles of contemporary artists worldwide.
Not just this, as part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage site bid, Dubai Creek is expected to receive upgrades to make it more attractive to tourists. Dubai Creek’s proposed heritage site is made up of 16 areas, including Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, Dubai Heritage and Diving Village and the Gold Souq. With Dubai in the final stages of evaluation by Unesco to have the Creek become a World Heritage site, winning the bid will see the Creek join Egypt’s pyramids on the Unesco list. The Opera District, billed to be the UAE’s cultural hub will captivate visitors with Dubai Opera, a 2000-seat multipurpose performing arts centre set to become part of the world performance circuit when it opens next year.
By telling the world about a component of the UAE that also includes art and culture, the country’s image as a global art hub will benefit the property market by luring high-end cultural tourists and encouraging the development of residential projects styled around traditional themes. Originally a small set of trading villages, the UAE’s emergence as one of the world’s leading nations, is nothing short of exemplary. For a country that is always looking into the future, cultural advancements such as the building of museums are ways of looking at the past for answers about the strides that humanity has made today.
By Renan Bordeau
The writer is the Deputy CEO of propertyfinder.ae. Views expressed by the author are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy.
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