Replica of Michelangelo’s statue covered up at Dubai Expo
The 17-ft copy of a naked man caused "enormous embarrassment" when first seen by the Emiratis at the world fair, said an Italian source speaking to newspaper La Repubblica.
The Italians decided to place the statue in a column with its private parts covered by a stone slab when the Expo opened over the weekend.
"We even considered putting underpants on him or changing [the] statue but it was too late," said one Italian in the UAE to La Repubblica.
"We understood late it was a mistake bringing a statue of a nude man to the UAE."
Artistic director at Italy’s Pavillon in Dubai, Davide Rampello, denied reports that the cover-up was to do with Emirati censorship on public nudity.
He called the decision a "unique approach" that allowed visitors to come face-to-face with David when entering a viewing platform.
Rampello added that audiences on the ground floor would be able to see all the statue. But, this level is only accessible to VIPs.
Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi said the cover-up was "grotesque and ridiculous" and argued the Italians were "just bowing to [Emirati] religion and culture".
The copy of Michelangelo’s famous work, originally crafted in the early 16th Century, was made using laser scans and 3D printing, then coated in marble dust.
It depicts the Biblical hero David preparing to fight Goliath and was brought to Dubai as a star feature in Italy's Pavillon.
The Expo, which has been eight years in the making, hosts over 190 countries in a bid to showcase global innovation, culture, and creativity.
Human rights groups have called for a boycott of the Expo over the UAE’s human rights violations.
Rights group Detained International told The New Arab that the glamour of the Expo should not distract from the human rights abuses in the country and "hypocrisy" of the government.