Claudia Cardinale, the Tunis-born Italian movie star, was the guest of honour on Wednesday as Tunisia inaugurated a long-awaited complex to showcase its cultural wealth.
The richly equipped City of Culture complex, launched a decade ago but long stalled, incorporates a modern art museum, a 1,800-seat opera, two theatres, a cinema, library and studios to host festivals.
“Every Tunisian should be proud of this project, culture is the main tool with which we will fight terrorism,” President Beji Caid Essebsi said at the opening ceremony. “Tunisians have to dream and have confidence in themselves.”
The project was initially launched under president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who was overthrown in a 2011 revolution.
Located in central Tunis, the nine-hectare (22-acre) Cite de la Culture with its iconic glass globe is estimated to have cost 130 million dinars (more than $49 million).
Culture Minister Mohamed Zine el Abidine told reporters at the opening that it is “the largest cultural complex in the Maghreb, the Arab world and Africa”.
The project, held up by financial disputes, had been abandoned after the revolution but was revived in March 2016.
The newly formed orchestra of the Tunis Opera was to play music from Carmen’s Bizet sung by three Tunisian artists, accompanied by a choir and orchestra from Ukraine.