Conference On Culture Versus Terrorism At The Louvre Abu Dhabi
François Hollande, the French president and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of United Arab Emirates AE would be leading the high profile conference on terrorism versus culture that is going to be hosted by the UAE. It is in December that the Louvre Abu Dhabi building that is designed by Jean Nouvel is due to be completed and would be the venue for the big event.
France, since 2015 has, in fact taken a lead in the campaign. Following a proposal from Hollande, a decision was made in May by the G7 summit in Japan to organize this event where political leaders as well as the experts of museums and heritage will come together on a common platform. According to the information given out by Elysée Palace in Paris, both France and UAE are garnering support not just from the G7 members but other states too to form a coalition to make the event a success. According to The Art Newspaper a special envoy of the French has already been put in place including the well famed Jack Lang who was not only a former minister of culture but also the president of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.
It was at the G7 meeting that the director of Louvre Jean-Luc Martinez was invited by Japan’s PM, Shinzo Abe to put forth and present to the heads of state his plan for the protection of cultural heritage. In a series of proposals that included 50 different ones, Martinez particularly put his emphasis on the need to control the freeports at a global level. He also expressed his hopes in putting in place a global fund during the conference for heritage that is now endangered. As a first step Hollande has already approached the director general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova for the organization’s involvement in the event. It is France’s wish and vision to bring the global community together on the same level as when it happened three decades ago in a united effort to fight HIV/AIDS that saw contributors from public and private arena.
At the G7 meeting, Hollande said that terrorism not only kills people, but also sites and places of memory and pride for the entire civilization. It is the objective of terrorism to wipe out all traces of history. Terrorism destroys, sometimes sells off works thus creating and manipulating a traffic for the history of humanity. He further stressed that it is time for the global community to take a stand and give an apt reply.
Hollande had commissioned a report in March 2015, after the demolition of Mosul Museum and the historical site and city of Nimrud in Iraq. Hollande further put forth a proposal to open shelters for objects cultural significance, where a record of the memory of these objects in different media could be created with proper documentation before these are attacked or demolished.
The conference that would be held in December would be held at a ministerial level and is planned in a way that would invite collaborations and contributions from the scientific arena in a big way. A meeting of experts which would be supported in totality by the Louvre would be followed by a one day long ministerial segment. The museum’s involvement or collaborations with other museums like Met, New York, British Museum, London, Pergamon, Berlin, and more is still under contention and remains unclear.
The reason for choosing Abu Dhabi as a venue for the conference was primarily because of the scheduled opening of the Louvre on Saadiyat Island and the fact that it is being increasingly showcased as a major crossroads of culture by the eminent team that had taken this ambitious project on in 2013. The opening of the museum was earlier planned to be in December which would have seamlessly coincided with the conference, however, some technical issues in the construction of this masterpiece by the designer Nouvel ended up in a delay in the opening. The conference however would still be organized at this same venue, once the building is complete, which would allow Hollande to conduct a symbolic ceremony in the presence of the head of the state and other ministers who would then be in Abu Dhabi.