India in focus as UAE set to open cultural district in 2025

Two over-a-millennium-old statues of Nataraja and Jina, a 12th century Pala dynasty manuscript, a sandstone frieze from Rajasthan dating to the short-lived Ghurid empire, and S H Raza’s ‘Bindu’. There’s “an imprint of Indian history” on almost every gallery of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of the department of culture and tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi.

India will be a central focus when Abu Dhabi unveils its Saadiyat Cultural District, with seven world-class cultural venues, next year. The district on Saadiyat Island aims to be a melting pot of global cultures while being rooted to the land, foster dialogue, and challenge the Western lens of looking at art.

Three institutions are operational: Louvre Abu Dhabi, whose architecture is no less than the art it hosts; Berklee Abu Dhabi that offers music, performing arts and educational programmes; and Manarat Al Saadiyat, which hosts cultural events. The remaining-Zayed National Museum, the national museum of UAE; TeamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi,an immersive digital art space; Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi; and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a contemporary art museum-are 76% complete and on track to meet the 2025 deadline, said DCT Abu Dhabi.

Al Mubarak said the district “embodies ‘cultural hope’… will convey a message of cultural diversity that will become more powerful over time, creating global connections, inspiring cultural exchange, and fostering new ways of thinking to support the region, the Global South and the world”.

Asserting that one cannot tell the history of art without India, he told TOI in an exclusive chat that the country is, “to some extent, the epicentre of culture”.

Positioning the district’s significance within the Global South, he said while places in Europe or North America may have taken a step back from investing in culture, “places in this part of the world, whether they are in Asia, Arabian Peninsula or Africa, they are investing… You’re seeing an explosion of cultural intellect. And that’s not just coming from museums.”

Source: msn

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