Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia opens at Louvre Abu Dhabi


Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), Louvre Abu Dhabi had opened Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia, the second international exhibition of the museum’s cultural season. The exhibition explores the rich history of the Arabian Peninsula through archaeological and cultural artefacts, including a selection of rare pieces from the United Arab Emirates.

Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia explores five chapters in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, spanning early prehistoric settlements; maritime exploration; caravan trading routes that linked the region with Asia, Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean; routes of holy pilgrimage emerging in the 7th century CE; and the social and economic developments between the 14th and 16th centuries that set the stage for the modern day region.

Fourteen acclaimed editions of the show have toured throughout Europe, the USA and Asia, before now coming back to the region at Louvre Abu Dhabi, where it is enriched by selected pieces from the UAE. The exhibition was conceived through cooperation between SCTH and the Musée du Louvre in Paris, where it was first presented in 2010. It is one of the most renowned Saudi exhibitions internationally, introducing Arabia's cultural and historical heritage to over five million visitors worldwide.

On this occasion, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said: “The organisation of Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia exhibition in Louvre Abu Dhabi, within its tour to the most popular museums worldwide, takes place at an important stage in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The Exhibition is held in line with the approach adopted by the Kingdom, which is based on giving due attention to history and heritage within the archaeological sector that was established more than 50 years ago, as well as on the concern for human communication among peoples and building bridges across cultures”.

“Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia forms the centrepiece of our latest cultural season at Louvre Abu Dhabi. The exhibition embodies a significant friendship and convergence between the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and France. With the museum located at one of Abu Dhabi’s gateways to the Arabian Peninsula, I can’t think of a more appropriate exhibition to present on the occasion of this institution’s first anniversary.” said H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.

The expanded exhibition to be displayed at Louvre Abu Dhabi is co-curated by Jamal S. Omar, Vice President of Antiquities and Museums Department at STCH, Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Scientific, Curatorial and Collection Management Director at Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Noëmi Daucé, Chief Curator for Archaeology at Louvre Abu Dhabi.

“Over the past year, Louvre Abu Dhabi has been telling the world’s universal story through its international exhibitions and innovative programming. Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ambition is to celebrate cross-cultural connections and highlight bridges between civilisations. We launch the exhibition’s programme in our anniversary week with On the Roads of Arabia, a world first showcasing more than 80 talented musicians and their respective cultures from across the ancient trade routes of Arabia,” Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said.

The important archaeological pieces from the United Arab Emirates, include a pearl found in Umm Al Quwain dating from 5500-5300 BCE (loaned by Umm Al Quwain Museum); a stone decorated with a wild camel from the late 3rd millennium BCE (loaned by Al Ain Museum), as well as objects from Julfar (loaned by the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah).

These are displayed alongside significant artefacts from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including outstanding funerary Neolithic stela, a 3rd-century BCE bronze statue head (loaned by the Department of Archaeology at King Saud University); a 1st-century BCE gold funerary mask from Eastern Province (loaned by the National Museum in Riyadh), 9th-century engraved steles (loaned by King Fahad National Library); 4th-millennium BCE Anthropomorphic stele (loaned by the National Museum in Riyadh); a door of the Kaaba dating to 1355 (loaned by the National Museum in Riyadh), and a key of the Kaaba (loaned by the Department of Islamic Art at the Musée du Louvre).

As a part of the programme, Emirati artist Hind Mezaina has curated a series of film screenings, taking place each Saturday from 5 - 26 January, featuring documentaries and films relating to the Arabian world, past and present.

Entrance to the exhibition is free with the museum ticket. Through the multimedia guide, visitors can follow Noëmi Daucé, one of the exhibition’s curators, on a unique tour, as she shares insights into the masterpieces of the exhibition. The tour is available in Arabic, English and French as well as Louvre Abu Dhabi’s mobile application (Apple Store and Google Play).

For more information on the exhibition or ticket bookings, visit or call Louvre Abu Dhabi at +971 600 56 55 66.