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Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the New York-based Guggenheim Foundation to establish a world-class museum devoted to modern and contemporary art. To be called the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (GAD), the museum, designed by internationally-acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, will position the emirate as a leading international cultural destination. At 30,000 square metres, the Abu Dhabi museum will be the only Guggenheim museum in the region and will be larger than any existing Guggenheim worldwide. It is expected that the museum will be constructed within five years. The museum will form its own major collection of contemporary art and will also exhibit masterworks from the Guggenheim Foundation’s global collections. The museum will be built in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island - a natural island lying 500 metres offshore the UAE capital which is being transformed into an international tourism destination. The Cultural District will also be home to a national museum, classical art museum, maritime museum, performing arts centre and an expansive arts centre park. "Today’s signing represents the determination of the Abu Dhabi Government to create a world-class cultural destination for its residents and visitors," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and member of the Executive Council. "It also demonstrates the commitment of UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to demonstrably establish this emirate as a quality destination of international standing, one capable of achieving and maintaining relationships with the very highest calibre of global partners. "This is a major step forward in our plans for Saadiyat Island and its Cultural District which will become an international cultural hub for the Middle East on par with the best in the world. The signing also represents a significant development in the creation and nurturing of international cultural ties which we believe will do much to forge greater understanding between all nations." Thomas Krens, Director of the Guggenheim Foundation, said the signing reflects the visionary spirit and forward- looking approach that are the Guggenheim’s hallmarks. "Our commitment to international communication and global cultural exchange - realised through our museums, collections, and programmes - is inclusive. The Guggenheim implicitly regards all contemporary cultures and their traditions as potential partners in the field of aesthetic discourse -we are both respectful of difference and excited by it. We also believe that the Middle East is one of the world’s most important emerging regions in terms of contemporary culture. "In Abu Dhabi," Krens continued, "we have had the good fortune to discover a partner that not only shares our point of view, but expands upon it. The plans for Saadiyat Island and the cultural district, envisioned and developed by the Abu Dhabi Government, are, quite simply, extraordinary. When this comprehensive and inclusive vision is realised, it will set a standard for global culture that will resonate for decades to come." William Mack, Chairman of the Guggenheim Foundation, led a delegation of Guggenheim trustees to Abu Dhabi for the project launch. He said: "It is with a keen sense of historical precedent and with an abiding commitment to cultural exchange as a bridge to international understanding that the Guggenheim Foundation enters into this agreement to establish a Guggenheim museum in Abu Dhabi. "I congratulate the Government of Abu Dhabi for its foresight in the redevelopment of Saadiyat Island and for its realisation that art and culture have a central role to play in enhancing international relations and understanding, and in encouraging greater educational initiatives locally, regionally and internationally." According to the MOU, Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development

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