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Page last updated at 17:45 GMT, Wednesday, 27 July 2005 18:45 UK

Prince funds Louvre Islamic wing

Prince Walid bin Talal
Prince Walid bin Talal is said to be the world's fourth richest man

A Saudi billionaire has donated more than 17m euros (11.7m or $20.5m) towards building an Islamic art gallery at the Louvre museum in Paris.

Prince Walid bin Talal said he hoped the gallery would help people to gain an understanding of Islam as a religion of humanity and tolerance.

The donation follows the recent London attacks, which have been blamed on British-born Muslims.

The Louvre says the new wing will house its Islamic art collection.

The museum says it has 10,000 artefacts from Islamic civilisation, ranging from Spain to India - most of which is now in storage because of lack of space.

Understanding

The museum says the new wing will cost nearly 58m euros.

"It will reinforce understanding between Western and Islamic cultures and civilisations," Reuters quoted the prince as saying.

The prince is described by Forbes magazine as the fourth richest man in the world.

He was at the centre of a controversy after former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani turned down his $10m donation to the victims of the 11 September attacks.

Giuliani was angered after the prince criticised US foreign policy.

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