reported the $131 million new wing of Islamic art in Paris's Louvre was opened to the public on Saturday in "a bid to improve knowledge of a religion often viewed with suspicion in the West." The Louvre will display around 3,000 works of Islamic art ranging from the seventh to the 19th centuries.
reported the Islamic Art Department is the most "significant and innovative architectural extension to the Louvre" since the 1989 glass pyramid. It was designed by international architects Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini.
The project is funded by the French government and supported by endowments from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and Azerbaijan. In 2005 the Alwaleed Foundation, headed by Saudi Prince Alwaleed, donated $23 million to the Louvre, according to Arab News
, making it the principal donor.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Department of Islamic Art, Prince Alwaleed said: “Our support to establishing the New Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre is a reflection of our nation’s active role in bridging the gap between various cultures and to foster mutual understanding under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.”
The opening of the new wing at the Louvre coincided with Islamic rage and demonstrations over the release of the film "Innocence of Muslims." According to Arab News
Prince Alwaleed emphasized that only a minority of Muslims are taking part in the violent demonstrations. He said: "This despicable and disgusting 12-minute movie is really unacceptable, but having said that we shouldn’t honor (it) with such demonstrations and give it so much attention. I hope these demonstrations will subside. You have to remember (that) those who go on the street and shout are the minority. Islam is a lot stronger and resilient.”
He went on to say “Our Islamic heritage can never be demolished by acts of demonstration that do not represent the bulk of the population.”