In 2001, Sultan Qaboos decided by royal decree to build an opera house in Oman’s capital, Muscat. It was to be the first Arab opera house to have its origins in the Arabian Peninsula. Opera houses were opened in Cairo and Damascus in the 19th century. However, these were created under British or French supremacy, which is why it was a cultural import from Europe.
The London architects Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo were finally commissioned to build the Muscat opera house, which began construction in 2007. After four years of construction, the Royal Opera House Muscat, whose name was inspired by the Royal Opera House in London, opened in autumn 2011 in a small circle of invited guests with the opera “Rigoletto” by Verdi. With the little later performance of Puccini’s “Turandot” finally began the first theatrical season. Today, the Royal Opera House Muscat convinces with a diverse program that includes not only opera but also Arabic jazz, tango or performances for children. During a visit to the opera house, Omanis traditionally wear their national costumes, while foreign guests appear in formal wear.
The Muscat Opera House is set in 80 acres of land and surrounded by a green garden. The modern, Omani architectural style combines different traditions and makes the magnificent building look like a palace of the Arabian Nights. The façade cladding is made of pink limestone from the desert of the country. The interior is furnished with precious marble floors and is adorned with genuine Omani handicrafts. The theater space, decorated in reds and golds, accommodates 1,100 guests.