Louvre Abu Dhabi

Visitors in masks and gloves returned to the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Wednesday as it reopened its doors after a 100-day closure under coronavirus restrictions. The usual paper maps were replaced with a phone app, thermal scanners were in operation and valet parking, a common service in the United Arab Emirates, was suspended for now. Entrance is by timed ticket and visits last a maximum of three hours. 

With travel into and out of Abu Dhabi still restricted, residents of neighbouring Dubai, just a 90-minute drive away, cannot yet enter. “Of course, it has been a challenging time,” said the museum’s director Manuel Rabate, acknowledging that restrictions would limit visitor numbers. “Our purpose is really to make sure that all the visitors have the best experience on the safest experience,” he told AFP, adding that in difficult times, art could help people find “solace and appeasement”.

Countries around the world have closed museums and cancelled cultural and sporting events in a bid to slow the pandemic’s spread. The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in late 2017 and attracted some two million visitors in its first two years of operation. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions—in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion). The Louvre in Paris, home to the Mona Lisa, is to reopen on July 6 after the government eased restrictions on museums and historic sites.—AFP