In the same office on the 13th floor of the high-rise headquarters of Abu Dhabi’s Tourism and Culture Authority, two newly positioned desks sit at right angles to each other.
Neither takes advantage of the view of the Arabian Gulf that’s on offer, but the new name plate each bears, rendered in the same monochrome livery of the yet-to-be opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, delivers a message that’s guaranteed to generate headlines and to cause a stir in major museums and galleries around the world.
One belongs to Manuel Rabaté, the unassuming 40-year-old Frenchman whose appointment as the museum’s inaugural director was confirmed in an official statement on Tuesday September 20.
The other belongs to his forthright deputy, Hissa Al Dhaheri, a 32-year-old Emirati who will assist Mr Rabaté in the act of finally delivering Abu Dhabi’s Louvre, a project that has been the subject of unprecedented levels of anticipation and scrutiny.
The product of an inter-governmental agreement between the government of Abu Dhabi and France that was signed in 2007, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was originally meant to open in 2012.
But the Jean Nouvel-designed building, which now sits on a man-made peninsula on the north-west corner of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, is still a construction site, while substantive works on the other institutions planned for the wider Saadiyat Island Cultural District – the Zayed National Museum and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi – are yet to begin.
“This is a very important milestone for the project,” Mr Rabaté insists. “The team has its leadership, almost all the key players are ready, and we will now move to open the museum as soon as we are able.”
For the rest of this story please visit The National