Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum will open to public on Saturday to present its galleries and hundreds of pieces of art, the authorities confirmed on Tuesday. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first museum outside France which bears the name of the famous museum in Paris which opened in 1793 after the French Revolution, reports Xinhua news agency. Located on Saadiyat Island at the Arabian Gulf’s coastline, the iconic, Arabian-style dome of the museum covers a collection of 23 permanent galleries across 6,400 sq.metres where 600 artwork will be on display.

“Half of the works on display are loaned from the museum’s 13 partner museums in France,” said Mohamed Al-Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism and the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). “This will be a place where visitors can connect, a place of cultural understanding and international exchange.” Architect Nouvel said the cultural complex’s architecture “makes it a place of convergence and correlation between the immense sky, the sea-horizon and the territory of the desert”.

He added “a double dome 180 metres in diameter, offering horizontal, perfectly radiating geometry, a randomly perforated woven material, providing shade punctuated by bursts of sunlight”. Nouvel stressed the place’s location at the coastline and the integrated waterfront promenades, “because water reflects, inspires and stands for the ongoing flow of the mind when inspired by art”.

The government of Abu Dhabi, home of 7 per cent of the world’s known “black gold” reserves, loaned the name for 30 years and six months under a 1-billion euro contract ($1.15 billion) as part of the inter-governmental agreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France.

Among the art work highlights are Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, Auguste Rodin’s Jean d’Aire and the sculpture Apollo Belvedere by Primatice. Ancient masterpieces include a white marble Head of Buddha from China. Highlights from later periods include a red Chinese lacquer chest of drawers produced in France by Bernard II van Risenburgh.

Twenty-eight artifact are borrowed from Arab cultural institutions. The museum contains a section for temporary exhibitions, a museum for children, auditoriums and a research centre.