x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Art at the heart of plan for cultural travellers to Abu Dhabi

Progress UAE: Over the next few years the capital will put the finishing touches to a host of landmark developments that are tipped to attract visitors keen to have a cultural experience, as well as top up their suntans.

ABU DHABI // Art and culture are at the heart of Abu Dhabi's strategy to attract tourists from all over the world.

Over the next few years the capital will put the finishing touches to a host of landmark developments that are tipped to attract visitors keen to have a cultural experience, as well as top up their suntans.

Key to increasing the emirate's appeal is the construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, due for completion in 2015, along with the Guggenheim, Zayed National Museum and the Maritime Museum and Performing Arts Centre.

Based in Saadiyat Island's ambitious Cultural District, they will form a key part of the Government's plans to boost the city's appeal on a global scale.

Mohammed K Al Dhaheri, director of strategy and policy at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority said: "The district's museums will attract culture seekers and art aficionados, as well as generic holidaymakers and visitors looking to twin leisure or business breaks with highbrow cultural adventures and excursions in an environment home to a host of world-class cultural institutions.

"In coming years, the museums will complement the island's leisure tourism credentials and enhance the emirate's wider appeal as a compelling and engaging, culturally-orientated destination for all."

As well as standing out in terms of the sheer size and scale of the project, Saadiyat Island's cultural attractions will be unique to the region, offering a different approach to the arts compared to similar offerings in Dubai.

Dubai's art scene is flourishing, with galleries, shows and exhibitions creating long-lasting appeal and work by more local artists gaining in popularity, said Hissa Al Dhaheri, project manager at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

"There are different offerings in both cities. They progress in a different manner. Dubai is more focused on commercial art galleries and Abu Dhabi is more focused on cultural projects to develop the educational and cultural offerings of this region," said Ms Al Dhaheri.

"They are two different projects and focuses and they complement each other perfectly."

Once Saadiyat's landmarks are complete, developers hope they will offer something for everyone.

"There is definitely a breadth of cultural offerings, it is from prehistory up to contemporary, the Guggenheim is going to be a more contemporary space and the National Museum will focus on history - each is different and will attract a different audience and will now allow people to have different cultural experiences," she added.

The Saadiyat Culture Programme also aims to cultivate a passion for the arts by holding drawing and sketching workshops, lectures and exhibitions.

The Birth of a Museum exhibition, which started in April at Manarat Al Saadiyat, has already been giving the public a taste of what will be on offer at the Louvre.

Ahmed Al Fahim, executive director of marketing, communications, sales and leasing at Tourism Development & Investment Company, said: "Saadiyat, which was at first a vision, has now become among the region's top tourism and beach destination.

"Saadiyat is destined for more success in the future as the rest of our cultural, educational and leisure projects are realised."

ksinclair@thenational.ae