Jan 24 2018

Qatar and Omani Border Absent in Louvre Abu Dhabi Map

by Elsie Dusting

A spurious map in which Qatar is missing was used in an exhibit at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. In the same map, the Omani governate of Musandam was shown to be part of the United Arab Emirates. Image via the Twitter feed of Gaith A. Abdullah.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has received backlash and criticism for mounting a map that does not include the Gulf state of Qatar and a peninsular border demarcation between the United Arab Emirates and Omani governorate of Musandam.

Photographs of the erroneous map went viral on social media after Kristian Ulrichsen, a researcher fellow at Houston’s Rice University shared an image of the exhibit. The map was featured alongside a soft-stone vase from 1000–500 BCE in the children’s section of the institution.

As controversy swirled, Qatar Museums chairperson Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani expressed her disapproval in a tweet: “Although the notion of museums is a new one to Abu Dhabi, surely the @MuseeLouvre is not okay with this?”

The Omani governate of Musandam lies northeast of the United Arab Emirates, while Qatar is a peninsular state taht borders Saudi Arabia. Image via the CIA World Factbook.

Tensions between the UAE and Qatar worsened last year when Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. Omani activists accused the Louvre Abu Dhabi of deliberately misrepresenting the Gulf region’s geography, and are interpreting the map’s display as a direct attack on Qatar amid ongoing hostilities.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened last November, a decade after France and the UAE signed a USD 10 billion, 30-year intergovernmental contract to create the museum. It has been billed as “the first universal museum in the Arab world,” meant to celebrate cultural exchange and tolerance.

Anwar Gargash, the Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, suggests that reports of the museum’s use of an incorrect map have been “exaggerated” and that “culture remains more significant than those small issues.” On Monday, January 22, the Louvre Abu Dhabi released a statement to indicate “the inaccuracy was an oversight,” and replaced the map on the same day.

Elsie Dusting is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.