It is a struggle engaged in beatings of billions of dollars. A competing cultural as it has rarely seen in the world. The operation "Oil for Art", to use the formula of the pattern of the Guggenheim Foundation, Tom Krens, does that start. The protagonists: two cities sisters, rich and dynamic, United Arab Emirates, which embody conflicting models. On the one hand, the sage, traditional and Central Abu Dhabi, on the other, the depraved and liberal Dubai. Some go to see the beginning of a new Renaissance in the Middle East, on the model of competition Rome-Florence in the 15th century in Italy in this confrontation.
The story begins with the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Two of these terrorists in hijacked airplanes are from Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates and the richest of seven local entities, which has 90 of the oil resources, 10 of the global black gold... A shock to Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The son of Sheikh Zayed assign to a close that the discovery of the nationality of the hijackers has caused him a conscience decision, to make profound changes in the company of the Emirate.
"Building a city of lights".
It will need to wait until 2004 and the death of his father, the very revered Sheikh Zayed, a Bedouin Petri traditions, to take over the reins of power. And to implement his idea force: education a dam against obscurantism, creating an opening to the world in a region subject to all influences and Islamist pressures. To achieve this, the Sheikh has huge financial resources. At the age of sixty, "forbes" ranked him number two world Royal fortune, with a heritage estimated at $ 21 billion.
The very substance cultural project was born of the brain of a scholar of Palestinian origin of the name of Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, a close for a long time in power, the remarkable library is known throughout the country. Today Advisor of the President of the authority of tourism and culture, the very young Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Member of the Royal family, he summarized his project: "We want to build a city of lights in Abu Dhabi." Sheikh Sultan, who studied architecture in Boston, said: "We must transform the prosperity in culture, develop our education and raise the standard of living of the population." Culture is not just a Western matter.
This is why, since more than two years, the cultural projects flourish. The Sorbonne moved to Abu Dhabi and the latest news, Yale University is in talks to open an art Institute. Festivals abound: francophonie, classical music, the book fair... The Emirati capital should particularly welcome, by 2012, a cultural complex that will change the art gives this part of the world. At 500 metres off the coast of the capital, has devised a museum set unprecedented on an island in 27 square kilometres, the pretty name of "saadiyat", island of happiness. A zone previously uninhabited and covered with mangrove. Tom Krens, who would leave Office at the head of the Guggenheim Foundation world in June to concentrate, among other things, to his Emirati version, is for many in the Pharaonic project.
The world's largest Guggenheim
Is from France, known especially the Louvre Abu Dhabi, subject of sharp controversy. A billion dollars must be paid to the France so that the Louvre of the sands, called to be a world-class, the day by 2013. On January 7 was signed between Abu Dhabi and the Agency France-Museum of the French management of the operation, a contract which lists 327 benefits to deliver over twenty years. The building was designed by Jean Nouvel.
But the Museum Park is much larger and will consist of five buildings. In July 2007, the American architect Frank Gehry signed a commitment for the creation of the world's largest Guggenheim, 30,000 square metres dedicated to modern and contemporary art. English-Iraqi Zaha Hadid to design the centre dedicated to the living arts, Tadao Ando, the famous Japanese, the Museum of the sea. Finally, a Museum of local history, Sheikh Zayed National Museum, should be erected.
The idea of Saadiyat is finally a resumption of the concept-clash of the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, multiplied by five. It is to combine art and architecture out of the ordinary to make the event site. The total bill would be estimated at $ 12 billion. Saadiyat will also include pleasure ports, land of golf, 29 top hotels of range... In all, 150,000 people could stay. But for the moment, Abu Dhabi is still a sad city. Of course, there are shopping malls offering all range high marks. But they are almost deserted. A false Bedouin village has been reconstructed. He is sorry. Here, families live in closed-circuit, one House to another, as expatriates.
The city of superlatives
Find a bustling urban life, to browse by car 150 kilometres through the desert, on a road any right, arriving in Dubai. Everyone knows that the sister of Abu Dhabi City has more oil and that it has developed a free port and excessive tourism policy to ensure its survival. Dubai is the city of superlatives and follies. She made an tourism argument: the largest building in the world is under construction, there are the most expensive hotel in the world.a giant track of artificial skiing, without forgetting the famous island built in the shape of Palm. A homeland of the entertainment, the "entertainment", as it looks like Los Angeles or Las Vegas. And since one year, spurred by the highly publicized example of the Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, Dubai has decided to invest in culture.
May 19, 2007, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose heritage is estimated at 16 billion dollars by "forbes", bought whole pages of newspapers to announce to the world that the Emirate would devote not less than 10 billion dollars for the creation of a cultural foundation for the Middle East. At the same time, he recruited one of the tenors of the culture German, Michael Schindhelm, today at the head of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. At the age of forty-eight, he led institutions such as the Stiftung Oper Berlin or the theatre of Basel. Fair play, the Sultan of Abu Dhabi Sheikh responded in terms for the less measured: "We are the same country." Should have rich and varied infrastructure in this part of the world.
Project of "Lyon Dubai City."
Michael Schindhelm, the first step in Dubai make this big cultural leap will be to obtain funds. For the moment, they are expected. But, according to him, Sheikh Mohamed has really realized "that culture is a priority for the company." There are 1.8 million people in Dubai; 210 nations is live, and only 10 of the population is of local origin. Need to create an environment that resembles people. "The task is monumental. By as much as the idea of such culture that it is in Europe is not so familiar in the Emirates, where some are not the difference between entertainment of its kind Disney and the culture itself. It must be said that the most spectacular operation is Dubailand in Dubai, a huge complex of family oriented attractions, consisting of a set of parks from the spectacle of sound and lights in the aquatic games, passing through the "Tiger Woods Dubai" or Dinosaur Park. Says Michael Schindhelm, "there is a proliferation of commercial purpose projects: Walt Disney, DreamWorks, Universal, the Cirque du Soleil...". I don't know all. I don't know if they will be completed. But this is not what I am interested.
Remains that the entrepreneurial spirit in force in Dubai is liberal, even if the Sheikh has many interests and control activity as the owner of the land. Thus, Michael Schindhelm projects has not control include the unusual "Lyon Dubai City". The idea is to create a whole neighbourhood to the image of a part of Lyon. An investor who operates in the Emirate, Buti Saeed Al Gandhi, head of the company Emivest, in submitted the proposal to officials of the French city. According to the Director of cabinet of the Grand Lyon, Christophe Cizeron, would "create on 300 and 800 hectares a gathering space institutions headlights as the Museum of fabrics, Paul-Bocuse Institute, the University Lyon-II, and even the Olympic lyonnais". A declaration of intent was signed between Emivest and Grand Lyon in January. But it is still unclear where the project, whose cost is estimated between 20 and 25 billion dollars, will be carried out. "The Prime Minister Emirati must soon choose a field", explains Christophe Cizeron.
Two different logic
Michael Schindhelm, he prefers to rely on a return to the sources. It directs its projects on the "Creek", authentic a Bay close to the souk remains the last portion of the city. This is settled by the first DubaÔotes, one hundred and fifty years ago. This is also the new Director of the culture would like to build the Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid yet it and which is scheduled to open in 2013 horizon. Shorter term, by 2009, it has also built a Pavilion at the lightest structure, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. It is a cultural centre to host concerts, theatre and exhibitions. "The idea of the Government is obviously to attract new capital." Keep in mind that, in fifteen years, the India, which is two hours of aircraft, will be a wealthy population of 300 million people. They come naturally in the Gulf. "The Dubai Culture and Arts Authority is also to announce the launch of a"universal Museum"project in collaboration with the museums of Berlin, Munich and Dresden.
In the meantime, many questioned the credibility new crazy Dubai projects. Number of investments are funded by Abu Dhabi, love is also recalled quietly in the sister city and now competing. Michael Schindhelm stressed for its part that the two protagonists of this new cultural match time is profoundly different: "Abu Dhabi has still one hundred years of oil extraction before it." Dubai, on the contrary, is in the Emergency Department. It must create a new self-sufficiency. "President of a festival of classical music she founded five years Abu Dhabi, Hoda Kanoo confirms this. Last April, she did come, among others, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bolshoi, but it also organizes concerts and lectures in schools and universities. "The cultural vision in Abu Dhabi is inherited from the founding Sheikh from the Emirates." It is a long term. Dubai, it is rather question of entertainment and tourism. But we need both.