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Hollande hails new Louvre Abu Dhabi's message of tolerance

ABU DHABI // French president Francois Hollande yesterday spoke of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s message of tolerance during his visit to the museum.

“I have come back to this museum because it has the ambition, even within the current circumstances faced by the region, of sending out a message of dialogue, understanding and intelligence,” he said.

Mr Hollande was in the capital for the Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage conference at Emirates Palace, which had its closing session yesterday.

Mr Hollande was officially received on Saadiyat Island by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, who announced that the Louvre Abu Dhabi was on track to open next year.

“Next year this museum will be completed and it will be filled not just with pieces of art but also with ideas,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

“This museum will showcase the dialogue between civilisations and we are pleased that we are moving towards a new perspective of knowledge, culture and humanity.”

Mr Hollande visited the museum’s site with Manuel Rabate, the museum’s director, architect Jean Nouvel and Mohammed Al Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

“This is a universal museum that will bring together all civilisations and cultures and it will do it here in the Middle East, where there is so much trouble, and in doing so it will send out a message of tolerance, peace and protection,” Mr Hollande said.

Sheikh Abdullah and the French leader addressed an audience that included the Aga Khan, Irina Bokova, Unesco’s director general, Jean-Luc Martinez, president director of the Musee du Louvre in Paris, and Jack Lang, president of the Arab World Institute in Paris.

“Since 2007, the UAE and France have shared the ambition to establish a museum with a universal perspective,” said Mr Hollande, reflecting on the history of a project that was set in motion by former French president Jacques Chirac.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi will probably be inaugurated by whoever wins the French presidential elections next spring.

“Ten years later, even though there are still some months to go before the official opening, we can see this work now and I would like to congratulate the architect Jean Nouvel for achieving such a unique work of art,” said Mr Hollande.

Echoing his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mr Hollande called for a broader effort to protect the communities and heritage of the region.

“We need to protect people, the civilian populations that are threatened by wars and terrorism,” he said.

“This is our first duty, and we need to protect those who are the most vulnerable and the most threatened by conflict and climate risks.

“But at the same time we need to protect our history, culture and civilisation and showcase that all of these civilisations can come together in the name of humanity.”

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The National