Arabian art dream in Abu Dhabi – new art scene in the Middle East


Dubai is now a new tourist destination with the world’s only seven star hotel,“Burj Al Arab”. Recently, Dubai has been on many travel programs on Japanese TV. While the city is busy constructing the world’s tallest building Buri Dubai, over 800m, world tallest building (on July 21st, at 512m, it became the world tallest building still only two-thirds complete), in its neighbor city, Abu Dhabi has started another gigantic project.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is not as famous as Dubai. But with more than 9% (estimated) of the world’s oil reserves, this Abu Dhabi art project has been announced to be valued at approximately US $27 billion.


This project’s venue, a natural inhabited island of Saadiyat (translated to “island of happiness”), will be transformed by 2018 into a huge art complex. It will accommodate four iconic museums and performing arts centres, a seven-star luxury hotel, 29 other hotels, two golf courses. The island will be connected by two 10-lanes highways to Abu Dhabi and the airport.

This project is being designed by the New York based Guggenheim foundation. All four main buildings’ designs by the world’s foremost architects are hard to comprehend. They are ground-breaking, geometric and something that one would only expect from Sci-Fi films, or just indescribable.


The world’s biggest to be Abu Dhabi Guggenheim museum is being designed by Frank O. Gehry. After his very well known Bilbao Guggenheim in Barcelona, this Abu Dhabi Guggenheim presents a completely new challenge, taking shape in a desert environment.


Next to it, there will be Louvre Abu Dhabi designed by Jean Nouvel.
Adding to its original design, this museum is raising some controversy in France. As the UAE and France have agreed that the museums in Paris, including Louvre Paris will rent out their collections to this new museum, some French people are anxious about the possible bad effects to their home museums.


The Performing Arts Centre is designed by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. This arts centre was inspired by an amoeba-like design from plants. It correspondingly looks like a massive plant growing in the desert.


In this fascinating project with the world’s most prominent architects, there is the presence of the top Japanese architect, Tadao Ando who will be building the Maritime Museum.

This project will place the Middle East as a new hub of art and draw more of the world’s attention to the UAE.

Our following issues will cover these four individual projects in Abu Dhabi in detail.

Text: Mamiko Kawakami
Photo: Lorenzo the Freshguy

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