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Video: Palestinian museum opens in West Bank – but without exhibits

Abbas Momani / AFP | Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas attends the inauguration of the Palestinian Museum dedicated to Palestinian art, culture and society in the West Bank town of Birzeit on May 18, 2016

After almost two decades of planning and five years of construction, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opened a new national museum in the West Bank Wednesday, though visitors will have to wait a while before seeing any exhibits there.

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“This museum will say to the world, to the whole world, that we were here, that we are here and that we will remain here to build our independent state,” Abbas said as he cut the ribbon at the Palestinian Museum in the town of Birzeit near, Ramallah.

Designed by architects from Dublin, the building is state of the art, ecofriendly and boasts hundreds of square metres of exhibition space.

In the future, it will hold exhibitions dedicated to Palestinian culture and history. But as journalists and dignities were shown round the building Wednesday, all they saw was empty space.

The museum will stay empty for a while yet, including when it opens its doors to the public in June.

“We could've waited, but we thought it's such a beautiful building, and the gardens are so beautiful, and symbolically it's important to show that work is carrying on, that Palestinians can build a world-class institution on their own with their own resources,” said the museum’s acting director Omar Al Qattan.

The exhibition that was intended to open the museum was cancelled after years of work amid dispute over the creative vision. Staff, including the director, then resigned.

But the museum has connections to other institutions overseas and its first exhibition will officially take place next week – in Beirut, Lebanon.

Click on the video player above to watch FRANCE 24's full report.

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