Kuwait and HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received warm thanks here at the highest level for generosity shown in helping finance the new Islamic department at the world-famous museum which was officially inaugurated Tuesday.
President Francois Hollande presided over the inaugural ceremony that brought together leaders, diplomats, officials and honoured guests from a large number of countries.
HH the Amir, who made a five million Euro contribution to the Louvre project in 2006, was represented by HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, who led a delegation to the ceremony that included Information and Cabinet Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdallah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah and Kuwaiti Ambassador to Paris, Ali Suleiman Saeid.
Head of the Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah, Sheikha Hussah Al-Sabah, who has been an erstwhile and dynamic supporter of art and culture both in Kuwait and abroad, was also present at the inauguration.
Indeed, Sheikh Hussah was the driving force, with her husband Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in successfully presenting a collection of Moghul jewels and artefacts at the same Louvre back in 2006.
In his inaugural address on Tuesday, Hollande praised the involvement of Muslim countries in the latest project and their support in building the eighth department of the huge Louvre museum and he personally thanked HH the Amir for his support and commitment.
"France for a very long time possessed one of the most beautiful collections in the world in the domain of Islamic art works, the President said.
France "had forgotten about them accumulated in inventories, kept in boxes, dispersed in different places, notably in the Decorative Arts museum," he added.
"What was missing for these masterpieces was a space, as only one tenth of what was available was displayed to the public. Here today, this anomaly is repaired. This injustice is finished," Hollande said.
The Islamic department will present art works dating from the seventh century onwards and there are some 18,000 artefacts on display, with 3,400 of them from French collections at the Decorative Arts Museum nearby.
The project was first conceived of in 2002 by President Jacques Chirac.
Louvre Museum President Henri Loyrette thanked Kuwait and others for the essential support for the new Islamic department and he said this support was not just financial but also denoted an interest of Muslim countries in the museum.
Kuwait has consistently supported Arab and Islamic culture in France and, apart from the Louvre, HH the Amir has also been a strong backer of renovation work just completed recently at the museum in the Arab World Institute (IMA) and of the IMA itself. Kuwait has also sponsored regional Islamic centres in outlying cities like Rheims, among other projects.
Loyrette thanked "the generous contribution of States" and he personally thanked "the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah" for his contribution "in the name of the State of Kuwait." Stressing the value of these contributions, the Louvre President told contributors that "beyond the material aspects, you have brought to these projects (this effort) rightly attests to the interest you and your States hold in art and culture and in dialogue between civilisations." The new Islamic department cost 100 million Euros to build and France contributed about 35 percent of that figure, with the remainder coming from donations in the Islamic world.