The Art of the Emirates

Significant outposts of the Louvre and the Guggenheim have come to Abu Dhabi as it plans to become the cultural capital of the Persian Gulf.

Not happy to simply be a place that attracts businesses from throughout the world, Abu Dhabi long has looked to partner with arts institutions to become the cultural epicenter of the UAE and beyond. Here is a look at some of the newsmaking events and alliances designed to make that a reality.

Abu Dhabi Art: This annual fair selects a boutique-style group of art galleries from all over the world to showcase everything from museum-quality art to pieces by emerging artists at the Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition center and UAE Pavilion. The fourth edition, which runs Nov. 7 to 10, includes design workshops and the Art Zone, a dedicated space that drew more than 4,000 children in 2011. The event is sponsored by Bulgari.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi: The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi has been planned since 2006, when the emirate signed an agreement with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York. The 320,000-square-foot museum will be part of a larger cultural complex on Saadiyat Island and is, after delays, expected to be completed in 2017. Architect Frank Gehry is designing the futuristic building, which cost an estimated $200 million and will be the largest of the Guggenheim museums. Its collection will reflect Islamic and Middle-Eastern culture.

Louvre Abu Dhabi: Expected to open in 2014 after an estimated $100 million investment, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be 260,000 square feet and feature a dome structure that looks like it is floating. The museum, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, will focus on art that bridges the gap between Eastern and Western culture. French critics have assailed the project as a sign that the Louvre is using its storied history to profit through expansion, especially in regions where partners have deep pockets.

NYU Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi also has partnered with educational powerhouses, opening the French-speaking Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in 2006. New York University opened NYU Abu Dhabi in September 2010 with the goal of being the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East operated abroad by a major U.S. research university.