Olivia Katrandjian
A model of The Louvre Abu Dhabi, to open in 2015.

Culture under construction in the United Arab Emirates

A future-focused cultural district made up of four museums and a performing arts center will be built on a manmade island off the coast of Abu Dhabi by 2017.

• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

The past is not even a distant memory in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. There is no past. There is only the present, and the promising future, now under construction.

The future-focused Manarat Al Saadiyat museum displays a model for a new cultural district made up of four museums and a performing arts center. The district, expected to be completed by 2017, is being built on Saddiyat Island, a man-made island about 500 yards off the coast of Abu Dhabi. It will include  Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry, composed of conical and rectangular towers; The Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel, featuring a massive white dome with palm tree cutouts; and The Zayed National Museum, designed by Lord Norman Foster, with steel towers curved like birds’ wings.

The government hopes to draw tourists looking for culture amid beach luxury.

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