Louvre Abu Dhabi: Part of a Partnership or a Business Transaction?

In November 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on the island of Saadiyat in the United Arab Emirates. The museum is the product of an intergovernmental agreement between France and the UAE and as a result members of the Agence France-Muséums, representing not only the Louvre in Paris but many other French cultural centers that have pledged to lend resources for exhibitions in the coming years. The UAE reportedly paid four hundred million euros for the use of the Louvre’s name in addition to two hundred and twenty million euros paid for borrowing artwork and management help. By allowing the Emirati museum to bear the name of the Louvre, France is lending not only resources but also its reputation to this partnership.

This brings up interesting questions regarding France’s decision to take part in this endeavor. While the deal has been officially called a partnership, it may be more accurate to call it a business transaction. One could argue that the deal benefits France not only monetarily but also in expanding their cultural reach into a geopolitically crucial region. However, it also could be said that France has cheapened the brand of the Louvre simply by allowing it to be bought. In a deal that unambiguously supports the UAE’s goal of establishing a respected global identity, it is less clear whether the deal was worth more to France than the hundreds of millions of euros it was paid.

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