“The simple experience of being here is hugely pleasurable,” writes correspondent Nick Trend.
“The galleries are stunning: Jean Nouvel gives you occasional windows on the sea, the sky and the courtyards outside; rooms to rest your eyes; space for the art and artefacts to breathe and your spirit to soar.”
Trend examines the challenge of building a world-class museum in what he says was a “desert state which, 50 years ago, was little more than a scattering of fishing villages”.
Thanks to the combination of French expertise and the vision of a universal museum, “Abu Dhabi suddenly looks like a much more interesting city”, he says.
Two of the sternest critics of the project were The New York Times and The Guardian in London. Both frequently published critical articles.
But from their reviews, both seem to have been won over, at least in part. Oliver Wainwright in The Guardian described the impact of the building and the water that surrounds it, as “mesmerising.”
“Standing beneath this vast cosmic dome, with rays of light piercing through its layers of star-shaped latticework casting dapples across the facades of the white concrete buildings, you feel transported to another realm,” he writes.
Of the museum’s finishing touches, he says: “It feels like they had too much money to spend.” But he notes that Louvre Abu Dhabi’s slogan, “See humanity in a new light”, is “exactly what this project forces you to do”.
The New York Times review frames the museum in the wider context of the politics of the region and the UAE’s projection of soft power. The article, by Doreen Carvajal, describes the museum’s history as “turbulent”.
She writes of “a saga of economic downturn, collapsing oil prices, regional political tensions and fierce French intellectual debates about the risks of lending its national treasures to the Middle East in exchange for petrodollars”.
But the result is: “Through it all, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has brought together East and West”.
Away from the experts, the museum already features on TripAdvisor, with three reviews and an “excellent” rating before it has opened to the public.
Users of the website, who are ordinary travellers, have voted the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque the world’s second most popular tourist attraction.