Abu Dhabi further delays Louvre, Guggenheim projects

Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:51pm EST
 
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ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi is once again pushing back the opening of local branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim art museums, after a fresh review of the projects, the government's tourism arm said on Wednesday.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, a spin-off of the famous Paris museum, will now open in 2015 while Abu Dhabi's branch of New York's Guggenheim, will open in 2017, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) said in a statement.

The Zayed National Museum will open in 2016, the statement said. All the three museums were originally scheduled to open between 2013 and 2014.

Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, has plans to invest billions of dollars in tourism, infrastructure and industry to diversify its economy away from oil.

Across the oil-rich state, which accounts for more than half of the United Arab Emirates' economy, government-backed real estate, commercial and tourism projects, many conceived during the boom years of 2003-2008, are under review and in some cases being delayed or put on hold.

In October, the emirate delayed the opening of the Louvre and Guggenheim branches and the Zayed National Museum planned for the Saadiyat Island, a $27 billion project incorporating art, culture and resorts.

The Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the emirate's advisory body on Tuesday said it approved a raft of multi-billion dollar projects including the museums. It did not state the budgets or timelines.

"These institutions are strategic components of the Abu Dhabi Government's vision for the Emirate and this timeline has been finalized in close coordination with its partners and advisors, Agence France Museums, The British Museum, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation," the statement said.

Substantial work has already been completed on the museums. Detailed architectural designs have now been finalized, as well as all foundation and piling work, the statement added without giving details of costs.

(Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

 
<p>French Minister of Culture Renaud Vabres looks at a model of the Louvre Abu Dhabi on a big screen during the signing of a cultural exchange agreement in Abu Dhabi March 6, 2007. REUTERS/Osayd Hasan</p>