Three top German art museums have agreed to lend their paintings to Dubai on the shores of the Persian Gulf, where a citadel of high culture is planned using the emirate's vast oil wealth.
Dubai is competing with Abu Dhabi to impress with world cultural offerings
The deal was announced in Berlin on Wednesday, May 28, by Michael Schindhelm, a German who is the cultural chief of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.
The participating German museum administrations are the State Museums of Berlin, the State Art Collections of Dresden and the Bavarian State Painting Collections of Munich.
Dubai's plan for a Universal Museum of World Art at Khor Dubai rivals a project in neighboring Abu Dhabi to build branches of the Paris Louvre and the Guggenheim museum of modern art in a "cultural district" of Abu Dhabi's offshore Saadiyat Island.
Both emirates are building world-class cities intended to become magnets for tourists.
Focus on Arab culture
"Dubai has a great future as the laboratory of globalization in the 21st century, with culture gaining a bigger focus," said Schindhelm, who was formerly chief executive of the Berlin Opera Foundation and has access to senior German culture figures.
Martin Kobler of Germany's Foreign Ministry voiced support for the link-up with the three cities' art collections, saying he hoped they made a strong impression in the Gulf.
The Khor Dubai project is also to include a $1-billion (640-million-euro) opera house.
Schindhelm said the museum would cover a wide range of cultural history "from manuscripts to astronomy" with Arab culture in the foreground.
He said a pavilion designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas would be used for exhibitions until the great museum had been built.