Sea Change

That cultural oasis shimmering in the Persian Gulf is no mirage: After five years of delays, the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum opens tomorrow, November 11. With a permanent collection that ranges from a Bronze Age Bactrian princess sculpture to twenty-first-century pieces from artists such as Cy Twombly and loans from 13 French museums, it’s the first of its kind in the Arab world.



The museum’s biggest showpiece might be itself: a collection of 55 whitewashed buildings built in dry dock on site, then flooded to appear like a floating medina on the sea. Even its roof is a work of art, with eight layers of metalwork meticulously arranged to create 7,850 sunbeams that track across the courtyard in a “rain” of light – an effect amplified by mirrors on the branches of Italian artist Giuseppe Penone’s 52-foot-tall bronze tree, Leaves of Light.

All photos by Mohamed Somji.