Here's where at least some of what you pay at the pump is going. Abu Dhabi is building a new art museum -- the models actually look pretty cool, with a flying saucer-like (or flattened mushroom?) roof -- for $108 million. A bigger expense, however, is licensing the name. It's paying the Louvre Museum in Paris $520 million for the right to name the new structure the Louvre Abu Dhabi. And that's just the beginning. In exchange for loans of art, advice on management and some special exhibitions, Abu Dhabi will pay the Louvre an additional $747 million over the next several years or so. The new museum is expected to open in 2012.
A number of people in France are outraged that the government would sell French tradition -- 4,700 people signed an online petition protesting the move. But the government is happy to have the money. So far the agreement only calls for rotating 200 to 300 artworks from the original Louvre to Abu Dhabi and back over 10 years, and four temporary exhibitions a year for 15 years. And providing management expertise and advice.
Don't know if the advice will include finding some other oil-rich nation with ambitions to be "world-class" to subsidize the Abu Dhabi museum once it gets established.