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the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Louvre Abu Dhabi, 2017. Photo: Mohamed Somji.

WHAT MORE CAN BE SAID about the Louvre Abu Dhabi? Since the original agreement was signed between France and the United Arab Emirates in 2007, buckets of ink have been spilled about the museum on Saadiyat Island, sixteen hundred feet off the coast of Abu Dhabi. And not just in the popular press: There are conferences and book-length studies that have been devoted to the Louvre Abu Dhabi and to the larger phenomenon of starchitect museums in the Arabian Gulf—despite the fact that this phenomenon has yet to fully materialize. (Of the seven museums that are planned, in Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Riyadh, only two have actually been built.) Attendant criticism revolves chiefly around labor issues, the UAE’s authoritarian policies and human-rights record, and, particularly in the Gulf, the importing of Western exhibition-display standards and museum methodologies, which underline the

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