Mar 1, 2011
According to Peter Aspden writing in February 18′s issue of Financial Times, Saadiyat Island (just 500m off the coast of Abu Dhabi City) is “hurtling towards the future”. Thanks to Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, museum development plans on the island are redefining Abu Dhabi’s place in the world of culture.
The island will soon host a new Guggenheim Museum, to be designed by Frank Gehry, which will focus on Arabic, Islamic and other Middle Eastern art in the context of developments over the last 100 years. The new Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel, will be a world museum, borrowing pieces from its parent in Paris.
The Zayed National Museum (Norman Foster’s spectacular fan-shaped design resembling feathers of a falcon) will be named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, former ruler of Abu Dhabi and founding father of the Arab Emirates federation. It will house contemporary Middle Eastern art–” a huge amount of talent begging to be seen and recognised.” We very much look forward to seeing Palestinian artists represented in their program.
Emirati women who have been active in leading the cultural change are an interesting group to watch. They include Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan al-Nahyan and Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
Edward Gibbs, director of the Middle East department and worldwide head of Islamic art at Sotheby’s says that the increased emphasis on culture in the region has been “astonishing.” “The future is Asia and the Asians will come to Saadiyat Island in the millions. He speaks of the ancient staging posts of the Silk Routes –the great cities of Palmyra and Nishapur that collapsed back into the sand..Abu Dhabi , Doha, Dubai. These are the new staging posts!