Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Set to Break Ground in the Middle East

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The long-awaited project will finally come to life.

It's been over a decade since it was first revealed that a version of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum would open in Abu Dhabi. And though it seemed the project might never come to fruition, a construction date has formally been set. 

According to Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project is set to continue after being stalled in 2011 due to human rights concerns of workers building it. Though even with a project timeline and budget set, we still won't see the completed project for another four years. "It's a big building, parts of it are quite complex, and it should take a little bit of time to put together as it's also quite large," Armstrong said in a statement. 

When it is complete, travelers can expect a grand attraction. It's being built off the shores of Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island and will be surrounded by water. "The site itself, virtually on the water or close to the water on all sides, in a desert landscape with the beautiful sea and the light quality of the place suggested some of the direction," Gehry told of his unique design. The renegade architecture and setting will only highlight the contemporary art—most of which will be Islamic and Middle Eastern work—housed inside, according to the Guggenheim website

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be part of a district that will also house the Louvre Abu Dhabi (set to house Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi) and the Zayed National Museum. All of the construction and development of the cultural area is part of the U.A.E.'s Vision 2030 effort to attract more western tourists to the city and reduce the city's overwhelming dependence on oil revenue.