A unique Picasso retrospective has gone on display in Abu Dhabi, bringing some of the Spanish artist's favorite works to this Persian Gulf city-state that aspires to become the region's cultural capital.
The show was put together by Madrid's Reina Sofia art museum, but many of the pieces come from the Picasso Museum in Paris. The Abu Dhabi collection includes 186 paintings, sculptures and drawings by one of the 20th century's defining artists.
The show that first went on display in Madrid in February included 400 pieces, but the traveling version that opened in Abu Dhabi on Monday and will visit nine cities around the world has been downscaled.
To make up for it, local sponsors in Abu Dhabi, the show's only Middle East stop, have contributed 40 additional Picasso drawings, prints and illuminated manuscripts, showing Arab influences on the young Spanish artist.
Pablo Picasso, considered the father of modern art, was born in 1881 in Malaga, southern Spain, but spent most of his life in France.
The 1936-39 Spanish Civil War followed by nearly four decades of dictatorship kept him from returning to his native country.
Abu Dhabi is one of world's largest oil exporters and the richest of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.
Unlike its neighbor Dubai, which is attracting big business and mass tourism, Abu Dhabi tries to attract visitors to come for exhibitions and music concerts rather than sprawling beaches and giant shopping malls.
The emirate's ruling elite is sponsoring the building of Mideast arms of New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Paris' Louvre Museum on an island off Abu Dahbi's gulf coast.
A performing arts center, a maritime museum and Emirates' National Museum are also scheduled to be constructed there in the next decade.