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Claudia Cardinale stars as Tunisia opens City of Culture

Palm trees stand outside the 'City of Culture' complex inaugurated on March 21, 2018 in the Tunisian capital.  By FETHI BELAID (AFP)

Palm trees stand outside the ‘City of Culture’ complex inaugurated on March 21, 2018 in the Tunisian capital. By FETHI BELAID (AFP)

Claudia Cardinale, the Tunis-born Italian movie star, was the guest of honour on Wednesday as Tunisia inaugurated a long-cherished City of Culture complex to showcase its cultural wealth.

The richly equipped 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.

“It’s a source of pride for Tunisia,” Culture Minister Mohamed Zine el Abidine told reporters at the opening of what he called “the largest cultural complex in the Maghreb, the Arab world and Africa”.

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).

The project, held up by financial disputes, had been abandoned after the revolution but was revived in March 2016.

Cardinale, who was born in the Tunisian capital in 1938 of Sicilian parents, was to take part in a formal opening ceremony later Wednesday along with President Beji Caid Essebsi.

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.

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