Has Islamist fundamentalism taken its last breath in Cairo Opera House?



Wed, 07 Mar 2018 - 01:38 GMT


Wed, 07 Mar 2018 - 01:38 GMT

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman during the theater show - Press Photo

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman during the theater show - Press Photo

CAIRO – 7 March 2018: Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s recent visit to Egypt, and its cultural and religious landmarks, carries several positive messages that correspond to Saudi Arabia’s modernization program – "Vision 2030".

During his three-day landmark visit, First Deputy Prime Minister bin Salman paid an unprecedented visit to the Coptic Cathedral and met with Pope Twadros II. The visit was hailed by the Coptic Orthodox Church’s Spokesperson Priest Bolus Halim as a major deterrent to the growing prevalence of terrorism as it “shakes all pillars of extremism.”

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman inaugurated Al-Azhar Mosque on Tuesday after its three-year maintenance and restoration works were completed. During his meeting with Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb, bin Salman reportedly insisted on the significance of filtering religious heritage books and renewing the religious discourse in general.

The Cairo Opera House hosted the Crown Prince on Monday where he watched the “Salem Nafsak” (Turn yourself in) performance, important for its tackling of modern-day issues.

FILE: President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman shake hands with the performers of a theater play, which took place in Cairo Opera House

Such unprecedented moves make for a radical departure from the norm, Mokhtar al-Ghobashi, vice president of the Arab Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Egypt Today on Wednesday. “Also they confirm the new Saudi leadership’s interests to bring about a total transformation into the Kingdom,” Ghobashi added.

Ghobashi further stressed that the recent visit is a representation of the Kingdom’s openness in its foreign policy; a foreign policy in which an era of much-needed cooperation between Egypt and the Kingdom is essential in order to resolve regional disputes.

FILE PHOTO: Saudi women arrive to attend Janadriyah Culture Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 8, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

"The Saudi Arabian society is young, so the to-be-king bin Salman wants to prop up his image as an advocate for religious and social freedoms and social reform, both domestically and abroad," said Sadek, professor of political sociology at the American University to Egypt today on Wednesday. Also, the visit to the Cathedral means that Saudi Arabia becomes more open to other cultures and religions."

"Saudi Arabia is on the verge of a crucial new stage of modernity thanks to the efforts of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman," former Assistant Foreign Minister Ambassador Gamal Bayoumi said.

"The visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to the Opera proves that he really wants his country to have its first-ever Opera House soonest and other fine arts majors," Bayoumi added during his interview aired on Sada El Balad channel on Monday.

In Late February, the Saudi General Culture Authority announced that the country’s first-ever Opera House will be completed by 2022. This came as part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious modernization drive and push for more inclusion of women in the public sphere.

Designed by Italian architect Pietro Avoscani during the time of Khedive Ismail, the Cairo Opera House was established specifically to celebrate the inauguration of the Suez Cana and has henceforth been considered the oldest Opera House to have been ever built in the Middle East and Africa.



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