Louvre Abu Dhabi closed in virus shutdown

Abu Dhabi (AFP) –


The Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi closed all tourist attractions, including its branch of famed Paris museum the Louvre, from Saturday until March 31 as a precaution against the coronavirus.

"In line with precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of visitors, #AbuDhabi's main tourist attractions, theme parks & cultural destinations will be temporarily closed from 15 to 31 March to limit large gatherings and protect public health in response to COVID-19," the Abu Dhabi government said on Twitter.

The seven members of the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the largest and wealthiest, have recorded 85 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to health ministry figures.

Countries around the world have closed museums and cancelled cultural and sporting events in a bid to slow the pandemic's spread.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors in late 2017 with about 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia. It attracted some two million visitors in its first two years of operation.

Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion).

The first works on loan from the Louvre in Paris included Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferronniere".