A Look Inside Abu Dhabi’s Louvre

Sometimes, you just want to go to the Louvre, wander through the statues, the paintings, the tapestries… And now, citizens of the United Arab Emirates won’t even need to leave their country to do so.

Abu Dhabi now has its own Louvre, which opens this weekend with a sold-out box office. Not a bad start for a museum that took ten years and more than a billion pounds to build. The museum’s name is part of a $464 million contract between France and the UAE that will last for the next 30 years, and comes with 300 works from the Louvre by artists such as Degas, Monet, and Picasso.

They even have a da Vinci called “La Belle Ferronnière” that looks suspiciously like a poor man’s Mona Lisa.

According to the UAE’s minister of state, Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, the country’s “priority is to invest heavily in education and culture” in the face of political uncertainty in the UAE and abroad. Nusseibeh claims that the new diplomacy is all about “soft power,” which he defines as meaning, “It is no longer sufficient to have military or economic power if you are not able to share your values.”

While it’s not certain how fighting radical Islam with van Gogh is going to turn out, whether it comes to oil, politics, or art, it’s all about the Manet.