The Mastaba (Project for the United Arab Emirates)


Since 1977

The Mastaba, a project for Abu Dhabi, was conceived in 1977.

It will be the largest sculpture in the world, made from 410,000 multi-colored barrels to form a mosaic of bright sparkling colors, echoing Islamic architecture. The Mastaba is an ancient and familiar shape to the people of the region.

The Mastaba will be 150 meters (492 feet) high, 225 meters (738 feet) deep at the 60 degree slanted walls and 300 meters (984 feet) wide at the vertical walls. The top of The Mastaba will be a horizontal surface 126.8 meters (416 feet) wide and 225 meters (738 feet) deep.

The colors and the positioning of the 55-gallon steel barrels were selected by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1979, the year in which the artists visited the Emirate for the first time.

The proposed area is inland, in Al Gharbia (Western Region) approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of the city of Abu Dhabi, near the oasis of Liwa.

In 2007 and 2008, Christo and Jeanne-Claude contracted professors of engineering from ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US, Cambridge University in the UK and Hosei University in Tokyo, Japan, to prepare structural feasibility studies about The Mastaba. All four teams worked independently and did not know of each other.

The artists then hired the German engineering firm, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, in Stuttgart, to analyze these reports. The Hosei University concept was found to be the most technically sound and innovative. The entire substructure as well as the layer of barrels will be assembled flat on the ground. Ten elevation towers will make it possible to raise the entire structure on rails to its final position in about 3 to 4 days.

In 2012, Christo commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers to conduct analyses on the social and economic benefits of The Mastaba.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s relationship with Abu Dhabi goes back to 1979 when they first visited the Emirate. They have returned many times since, creating a longstanding friendship with the people of Abu Dhabi.

The Mastaba will be Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s only permanent large-scale work.

Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 1977
22 x 28" (56 x 71 cm)
Pencil, wax crayon, pastel and charcoal
Photo: Eeva-Inkeri
© 1977 Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 1977
12 3/16 x 10 5/8" (30.9 x 27 cm)
Pencil and wax crayon
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA
Photo: Archive
© 1977 Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 1977
28 x 22" (71 x 56 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, crayon and pastel
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1977 Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 1977
11 3/4 x 15 7/8" (30 x 40.5 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 1977 Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 1977
42 x 65" (106.6 x 165 cm)
Pencil, pastel and charcoal
Private collection, USA
Photo: Eeva-Inkeri
© 1977 Christo
Map of the United Arab Emirates
Map of the United Arab Emirates

The country of the United Arab Emirates is located in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the Arabian Gulf to the north, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and Oman and the Gulf of Oman to the east.
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Collage 1978
31 x 23 3/4" (80 x 60.5 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, photograph by Wolfgang Volz and map
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1978 Christo
Christo and Jeanne-Claude during their first trip to the United Arab Emirates, February 1979
Christo and Jeanne-Claude during their first trip to the United Arab Emirates, February 1979
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1979 Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Scale model 1979
32 1/2 x 96 x 96" (82.5 x 244 x 244 cm)
Enamel paint, wood, paint, sand and cardboard
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1979 Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Scale model 1979 (Detail)
32 1/2 x 96 x 96" (82.5 x 244 x 244 cm)
Enamel paint, wood, paint, sand and cardboard
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1979 Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Collaged photographs 1979 (Detail)
22 x 14" (56 x 35.5 cm)
Pencil and two photographs by Wolfgang Volz
Photo: André Grossmann
© 1979 Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Collaged photographs 1979 (Detail)
14 x 22" (35.5 x 56 cm)
Pencil, charcoal and photographs by Wolfgang Volz
Photo: André Grossmann
© 1979 Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Collage 1979
31 x 23 3/4" (80 x 60.5 cm)
Pencil, wax crayon, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, pastel, charcoal and technical data
Photo: André Grossmann
© 1979 Christo
Christo and Jeanne-Claude looking for a possible site for The Mastaba, February 1982
Christo and Jeanne-Claude looking for a possible site for The Mastaba, February 1982
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1982 Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 2006
26 1/4 x 30 1/2" (66.7 x 77.5 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, technical data and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2006 Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 2007
17 x 22" (43.2 x 55.9 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon and pastel on tan cardboard
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2007 Christo
The Mastaba in comparison to the Great Pyramid of Giza (Pyramid of Cheops), Egypt
The Mastaba in comparison to the Great Pyramid of Giza (Pyramid of Cheops), Egypt
Christo and Jeanne-Claude scouting locations for the site of The Mastaba, October 2007
Christo and Jeanne-Claude scouting locations for the site of The Mastaba, October 2007
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2007 Christo
The site of The Mastaba in the United Arab Emirates
The site of The Mastaba in the United Arab Emirates

The proposed site for The Mastaba is in Al Gharbia (Western Region) 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the city of Abu Dhabi, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of Hamim in the Liwa desert.
The proposed site for The Mastaba in Al Gharbia
The proposed site for The Mastaba in Al Gharbia
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
The Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Collage 2008
14 x 11" (35.5 x 28 cm)
Pencil, wax crayon, pastel, charcoal, technical data and map
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2008 Christo
The Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Collage 2009
15 1/2 x 13 7/8" (39.4 x 35.3 cm)
Pencil, wax crayon, pastel, charcoal, wash and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2009 Christo
The Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 2009 in two parts
15 x 65" and 42 x 65" (38 x 165 cm and 106.6 x 165 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, technical data and map
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2009 Christo
Ref. # 5-2009
First scale model test at the proposed site of The Mastaba, November 2011
First scale model test at the proposed site of The Mastaba, November 2011
Scale of the model: 1 cm = 10 m
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2011 Christo
Christo during the first scale model test at the proposed site of The Mastaba, November 2011
Christo during the first scale model test at the proposed site of The Mastaba, November 2011
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2011 Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Collage 2012
8 1/2 x 11" (21.5 x 28 cm)
Pencil, wax crayon, pastel, charcoal, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, tape and enamel paint on brown board
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2012 Christo
Second scale model test at the proposed site of The Mastaba, April 2012
Second scale model test at the proposed site of The Mastaba, April 2012
Scale of the model: 2 cm = 1 m
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2012 Christo
Second scale model test at the proposed site of The Mastaba, April 2012
Second scale model test at the proposed site of The Mastaba, April 2012
Scale of the model: 2 cm = 1 m
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2012 Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 2012
15 x 95" and 42 x 95" (38 x 241.3 cm and 106.6 x 241.3 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, hand-drawn road map, technical data, enamel paint and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2012 Christo
Ref. # 6-2012
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 2012 in two parts
15 x 96" and 42 x 96" (38 x 244 cm and 106.6 x 244 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, aerial photograph, hand-drawn technical data, enamel paint and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2012 Christo
Ref. # 13-2012
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Collage 2013
8 1/2 x 11" (21.5 x 28 cm)
Pencil, wax crayon, pastel, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, map and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2013 Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Collage 2013
17 x 22" (43.2 x 55.9 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, wash, technical data, map and tape on brown board
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2013 Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Collage 2013
17 x 22" (43.2 x 55.9 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, technical data, map and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2013 Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 2013 in two parts
12 x 30 1/2" and 26 1/4 x 30 1/2" (30.5 x 77.5 cm and 66.7 x 77.5 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, enamel paint, hand-drawn map and technical data and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2013 Christo
Ref. # 16-2013
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 2013 in two parts
30 1/2 x 12" and 30 1/2 x 26 1/4" (77.5 x 30.5 cm and 77.5 x 66.7 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, enamel paint, hand-drawn map and technical data and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2013 Christo
Ref. # 14-2013
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Drawing 2013 in two parts
65 x 42" and 65 x 15" (165 x 106.6 cm and 165 x 38 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, hand-drawn technical data and map, enamel paint, wash and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2013 Christo
Ref. # 14-2013
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Christo
The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Collage 2014 in two parts
12 x 30 1/2" and 26 1/4 x 30 1/2" (30.5 x 77.5 cm and 66.7 x 77.5 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, enamel paint, hand-drawn map and technical data on rodoid and tape on brown board
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2014 Christo
Ref. # 22-2014