Bahrain opens one of Gulf’s largest theaters
MANAMA - Reuters
King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa signs the visitor’s book at the theater. REUTERS photoBahrain’s King Hamad opened one of the largest theaters in the Middle East this week as part of a drive to smooth over months of unrest that have rocked the Gulf Arab state.
But the creation of an elegant cubic glass structure with a golden-colored roof by the seaside may do little to quell lingering unrest between the minority Sunni ruling elite and majority Shi’ite population of a small oil-producing Gulf kingdom that is also home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
The new 1,001-seat Bahrain National Amphitheater was built at a cost $50 million with an Arabian Nights theme and will stage a busy season of performances that include Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre and Spanish tenor Placido Domingo. “This theater adds a great deal, through cultural activities that bring people close and embodies the dreams of every citizen,” Bahraini Culture Minister, Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed al-Khalifa, told Reuters.
Boasting all the amenities of a modern cultural center needed to attract world events, including a 100-seat rehearsal hall, the 11,669 square meter national theater is the latest artistic foray in the conservative Gulf region.