Paris, France – The Chateau de Fontainbleau’s historic Imperial Theatre has reopened to the public, following years of restoration works made possible by contributions from the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
In recognition of Abu Dhabi’s contribution to the restoration, the theatre has been renamed as the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, attended the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
He was accompanied by a UAE delegation that included, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Humanitarian & Science Foundation, Noura bin Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Zaki Nusseibeh Minister of State, Sara Awad Issa Musallam, Chairperson of the Department of Education and Lnowledge, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, Saif Saeed Ghobash, Under-Secretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, Mohamed Khalifa Al Nuaimi, Director of the Education Affairs Office at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, Manuel Rabate, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Ismail Al Sahlawi, Deputy Head of Mission at the UAE Embassy in Paris.
As part of the historic agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France in 2007 – other components of which concerned the Louvre Abu Dhabi project – the contribution of the commitment to heritage preservation of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The longstanding cultural cooperation between the two countries has also included the Conference on Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage, and the establishment of the International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas, ALIPH.
The first phase of the restoration was completed in April 2014 and saw the rejuvenation of the main auditorium, with 25 specialists and 135 craftsmen working on site to revive the theatre’s original décor. The second phase of renovation began in June 2017 with the focus turning to certain machinery the upper levels of the salons and the podium which one of the most important stage sets in France has been preserved.
A masterpiece of French Second Empire architecture, the theatre was exquisitely designed by Hector Lefuel for the Imperial family between 1853 and 1856. It was used by Napoleon III on no more than a dozen occasions before its doors were closed for over a century, thus preserving it in its original state. Today, following the extensive restoration works, the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre represents a museographic space dedicated to the performing arts and decorative arts of the Second Empire.
In a speech during the opening ceremony, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, said that the reopening of Chateau de Fontainebleau’s historic Imperial Theatre, and its being named after President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is a true embodiment of the strong ties between cultural institutions in their efforts to preserve national heritage sites.
“These efforts are lesson we have carried forward from the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan”, His Highness continued, adding they also represent the UAE’s diplomatic efforts with over 187 countries to ensure an integrated and promising future for all.
Sheikh Abdullah went on to say, “This magnificent edifice, which today reopens its doors to the world after 100 years, represents French’s rich cultural history and prowess. Based on the UAE’s belief in preserving and developing cultural and heritage sites, we have committed ourselves to carrying out projects with various French cultural institutions, to ensure that these sites continue to present the beauty of human civilisations”.
“Today”, His Highness said, “represents the strong ties between the UAE and France in the cultural preservation sector, which date back to 2007, when the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and France signed an agreement, and has since then seen the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017 on Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District”
The Chateau de Fontainbleau, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sheikh Abdullah continued, nothing that the historic palace served as a residence for the French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III. “And while the Palace grounds are of historic significance, its is the lessons and human values created on these grounds that are of vital importance, whether through the arts, literature, philosophy and poetry, it is vital for us to carry forward these human links and learn from them, especially during times of war, terrorism and extremism”.
Sheikh Abdullah added, “For us in the UAE, preserving a nation’s heritage and culture and presenting it to the youth and future generations is of vital importance and a key focus area for the UAE leadership.
“We cannot teach values of tolerance, if we cannot present to individuals the beauty in celebrating diversity. Individuals who visit museum will only be made aware that human civilization and its development came about as a result of intellectual and growth varied means of thinking, production, and ingenuity.
“Here, I note the French philosopher, Michel de Montaigne, whose works adorn the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s walls. Born in the 16th Century, he taught us the importance of tolerance, and how individuals should engage with respect, reasonableness and civility” His Highness continued.
Sheikh Abdullah went on to assert that the UAE will continue to stand by countries suffering as a result of natural disasters and conflict, just as it will continue to support the arts, culture, and history across the world.
He noted that ensuring due care for the preservation of cultural and heritage sites is a global societal duty, and that “we need to remind ourselves and the international community to abide by it. Society cannot prevail without the arts’.
For his part. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said “The inauguration of the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre at the Chateau Fontainebleau presents yet another cultural achievement resulting from the close ties between France and the UAE, further emphasizing the crucial role cultural diplomacy plays in the preservation of the world’s cultural heritage not only in times of peril, but also of peace.
DCT Abu Dhabi is committed to the protection and promotion of cultural heritage around the world, due to the rich, universal value it brings not only to local communities but to the global community as a whole, he added. “The reopening of this historical theatre further underscores the influential role played by the UAE in stimulating joint collaborations that results in positive, tangible change”.
“Abu Dhabi has a mission to preserve and promote culture, not just locally but on a regional and international scale. If we are to progress as an increasingly global society, we must look outward and realize that all cultural heritage has a great and equal value, and the preservation of our shared histories is essential for the passing on of precious knowledge and skills to future generations”, Al Mubarak continued.
“The renovation of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre represents our commitment to heritage preservation, and our strong belief that culture unites us all as a catalyst for tolerance and understanding”, he concluded.
A designed UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Chateau de Fontainebleau was home to 34 French monarchs and emperors, and host 1.530 invaluable artifacts and items of rare furniture. It was there that Napoleon bade farewell to his Old Guard and went into exile in 1814.
With modifications of the chateau’s structure, including widening the cobblestone entrance to fit his carriage, Napoleon helped make the building the place that visitors today.
Fontainebleau was the setting of the Second Empire court of his nephew Napoleon III. The chateau is also home to the Ecoles d’Art Americaines, a school of art, architecture, and music.
- TRAVEL | Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Watan Open For Visitors After Months Of ClosureAbu Dhabi’s presidential palace Qasr Al Watan announced on Monday its reopening for visitors with enhanced safety measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. According to the site’s website, the reopening of the majestic palace comes hand in hand with a set of new precautionary health measures. First, the site will be subject to an … Continue reading TRAVEL | Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Watan Open For Visitors After Months Of Closure
- UAE | Islamic New Year Holiday For Private Sector AnnouncedABU DHABI – The Ministry Of Human Resources and Emiratisation has declared Sunday, 23rd August, an official paid holiday for all private sector employees in the UAE to celebrate the coming Islamic New Year, Al Hijri 1442.
- SCIENCE | United Arab Emirates Set To Launch Mission To MarsDUBAI – The United Arab Emirates launches its first mission to Mars early on Monday as it strives to develop its scientific and technology capabilities and move away from its reliance on oil. The Hope Probe will launch from Japan’s Tnegashima Space Center at 1:58 A.M. UAE time/ 6:58 A.M. Japanese time Monday (2158 GMT … Continue reading SCIENCE | United Arab Emirates Set To Launch Mission To Mars
- POLITICS | Mohamed Bin Zayed, German Chancellor Discuss Cooperation, Number of Regional And International IssuesABU DHABI – Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and the German Chanceller, Angela Merkel discussed cooperation channels and ways to enhance the existing overall strategic partnership to achieve the aspirations of the two peoples to accomplish development and progress. In … Continue reading POLITICS | Mohamed Bin Zayed, German Chancellor Discuss Cooperation, Number of Regional And International Issues
- BUSINESS NEWS | Abu Dhabi Fund Suspends Debt Service Repayments For Countries, CompaniesABU DHABI – Abu Dhabi Fund For Development has suspended debt service repayments for some countries and companies for the year, the state-financed fund said on Sunday. The fund provides financial assistance to companies in the United Arab Emirates and to developing countries, which has included Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. Debt service repayments would … Continue reading BUSINESS NEWS | Abu Dhabi Fund Suspends Debt Service Repayments For Countries, Companies
- TRAVEL ALERT | UAE Says Residents, Citizens Cannot Travel Abroad For Tourism YetDUBAI – United Arab Emirates authorities on Wednesday said residents and citizens were not yet allowed to travel abroad for tourism and leisure purposes and all travel abroad needed a permit, as part of restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the new coronavirus. A spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority … Continue reading TRAVEL ALERT | UAE Says Residents, Citizens Cannot Travel Abroad For Tourism Yet