A Visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi

This statue of a sphinx at the Louvre Abu Dhabi is from ancient Greece. 

The Louvre in Paris, France, is the largest art museum in the world. Housed in a building that was once a castle, it has showcased paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other priceless art for centuries. A unique partnership between the French government and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has now led to the creation the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in the capital of the UAE in 2017. 

Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi sits serenely on a reflecting pool, blending elements of French design and Arabic heritage.

The building’s most eye-catching feature is its dome. While appearing to float on top of the museum, it is actually made of eight layers of steel mesh and weighs 7,500 tons.

The dome’s intricate lace-like pattern, known as mashrabiya, allows the sun’s rays to partially shine through to the courtyard, creating a dazzling effect known as the “rain of light.” This represents the dappled light given off by palm trees, which are a symbol of hospitality and prosperity in the Arab world.


The museum is designed so that it appears to float. 


The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which drew more than one million visitors in its first year alone, celebrates the achievements of all civilizations, from prehistoric to modern times. Its galleries are separated chronologically rather than geographically, emphasizing the similarities between cultures. One example is the Universal Religions gallery, which features priceless objects from different religions side-by-side.

“Tolerance and inclusivity are manifested in all aspects of the museum,” says Bedoor AlHarbi, a communications official. “The Louvre Abu Dhabi tells the story of human history through artistic objects and artifacts presented in a uniquely inclusive set-up.”

Photos courtesy of the author