Emiratis take centre stage ahead of Louvre Abu Dhabi debut

Culture & Entertainment
Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAEPeople are seen at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Photo: November 6, 2017. Picture taken November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Art for art’s sake is a thing of the past. Today, it’s all about creating an experience and a platform for knowledge and development. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opens its doors to the public on 11 November 2017, is doing just that with its Student Ambassador Programme.

“The Louvre Abu Dhabi is more than just a place to house works of art. It is a beacon of humanity and an opportunity to share our culture with the world, and vice versa,” explained His Excellency Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism Development and Investment Authority (TDIC), in his opening address at the press conference.

Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAEPeople view exhibits at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

The Student Ambassador Programme is one of many initiatives to meet this end, and it involves the youth from the get go. By making the younger generation a part of the project’s development from an early stage, the directors hope to inspire a better and more tolerant generation.

“The programme is year-long, and is now in its second year. We approach universities across the country and invite students to be part of the programme, where they will work with us at all levels,” Hissa Al Dhaheri, Deputy Director at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, told MySalaam. “The best part is that the students come from all disciplines, which allows them to explore diverse career options.”

Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAEPeople walk at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Partner institutions include Zayed University, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, New York University Abu Dhabi, Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi University, and UAE University in Al Ain.

The programme has been successful, with many students who were part of the first batch already integrated into the workforce at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. “In fact, many of them came back to us to volunteer for the opening as well,” Al Dhaheri added.

Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAEPeople walk at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017. Picture taken November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Two-thirds of the workforce on site today are Emiratis, which is something Al Dhaheri is proud of. “We have a responsibility towards our youth. We need to educate them and open their eyes to the many possibilities they have, and I would definitely be very pleased if programmes like these are adopted and implemented by other institutions and developments.”

“Education like this inspires the next generation,” she continued, “and change can only come when children are inspired. We need to make sure that our voices are heard in the global cultural conversation.”

Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAEA man stands next to exhibits at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017. Picture taken November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

The Student Ambassador Programme offers a wide range of events, workshops and training sessions, allowing participants to use the museum as a tool for learning. “We are already seeing a notable increase in the art and culture programmes offered by educational institutions in the country, which is proof that our initiatives are affecting society even before the actual opening,” said Al Dhaheri.

Meanwhile, a statement by Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and Chairwoman at Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi and twofour54, reflects that sentiment: “The ambassadors are young, they are from the UAE and they are spreading awareness about Louvre Abu Dhabi.”

“At the end of the day, it is so important for us to witness Emiratis talking about the museum and being the bridge between cultures, whether they are visitors coming to Abu Dhabi or UAE nationals. […] I think it will inspire other youths to follow in their footsteps.”

Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAEA woman looks at exhibits at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017. Picture taken November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Manuel Rabate, Director at Louvre Abu Dhabi, told MySalaam that the young Emirati students were nothing short of inspirational. “We are inspired by the energy, desire and commitment that young people are bringing to us. Over the last ten years, we have seen an entirely new generation of Emiratis being born. As the Abu Dhabi government makes increased investments into culture and education, the Student Ambassador Programme will be prominent among them.”

ABOUT THE LOUVRE

The Louvre Abu Dhabi was first conceptualised in 2007 and is the first gallery outside France with the iconic name. A pioneering cultural project, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a dynamic destination that is representative of the region’s multicultural heritage.

Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAEPeople walk at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

The museum houses contributions from Agence France-Museums, gathering 17 of France’s most renowned cultural institutions, bringing French expertise and appreciation for art to Abu Dhabi. The architecture combines French and Arab influences with the intention of incorporating multiple cultures to display the basic unity of all humans.

The same ethos has been applied to the choice of artwork, and the way they have been displayed: not by geography, but in chronological order.

Related stories and gallery:

New museums will follow opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi - UAE official

East meets West as Louvre Abu Dhabi opens in the Gulf

Louvre Abu Dhabi ready for Grand Opening

Louvre Abu Dhabi opens in November with no limits on art

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