On Wednesday, Tunisia has inaugurated its City of Culture in the capital. The dream of Tunisian intellectuals and artists who so badly wanted a place to function as incubator for ideas and creativity has therefore been realized especially after they nearly lost hope that this project would be achieved.
The City of Culture was opened with an artistic opera show by the Tunisian Orchestra Aswat Tounes. In the opening speech, the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Mohamed Zine El Abidine, said,
“It is a moment that is not like any other moment. It is a day that is not like any other day, in a place unlike any other place. It is a dream that has been achieved of a beloved city that so resisted yet has finally given herself to passion and love, because passion is life, and because the lanes of desire can still yield to our passion.”
We have always believed in it … the City of Culture. Tunis is the be-all and end-all of all cities, it is the Gate to Tunisia. It is Tunisia, the sum total of every meaning, and the holy grail of passion. It is the Tunisia of culture, civilization, philosophy, creativity, imagination, treasures and beauty.
Tunisia is nowadays restoring moments of its international openness thanks to new institutions, authorities and groups that are being brought out in its nationalisation and contribution to knowledge and the formation of human culture in its specificity, language, and aesthetic and semantic backgrounds.
The Tunisian City of Culture is located in Mohamed V Street, one of the largest streets in the capital Tunis, on an area of about 20 acres. It has three theatres, three exhibition halls, a contemporary and modern art museum, a national book centre and a cultural investment centre.
The city also has an 1800-seat opera theatre, a 700-seat theatre for parties, a 300-seat creative young people theatre and six other halls for production, warehousing and storage.
The cinema complex has two halls, the first one a 350-seat hall and the second is a 150-seat hall, as well as a cinema library and the National Centre of Cinema and Image.
The City has meeting and reception rooms, commercial spaces and cafes, as well as a 65-meter tall tower to host intellectual seminars, literary gatherings and television and radio programs.
The idea of the establishment of a City of Culture in Tunisia started in 1992. A Czech company has practically started the construction works in 2006, but stopped in 2008.
The construction works were supposed to resume in 2009 but were disrupted by a dispute between the company and the Tunisian government before the situation worsened with the outbreak of the 2011 revolution. The contract with the Czech company was then terminated and then in 2016, a Tunisian company was designated to complete the construction process.