Royal Opera House Muscat which opened in Oman in 2011 after much controversies, is a shining symbol of modern Islamic Architecture and design. The opening season for this Opera house was pretty impressive and the performance of Plácido Domingo did grab a lot of attention across the entire Gulf. Many of those countries are now in the race to construct their own facility. Kuwait, Baghdad and Dubai are already on their way to conceptualise their own opera house while Doha already has a very popular centre of performing arts which opened in Katara Village in 2010.
A shift in Conservatism
Now we see a trend here, but more than the trend what we should focus on is the shift in the conservatism that is taking place in these regions. Complete and expensive indulgence in music has been regarded as Haram i.e. sinful. Before this facility in Oman even opened, a fatwa was issued by Grand Mufti, Sheik Ahmed bin hamad al-khalili who saw the place as unaccepted to be visited by Muslims.
There were others who also questioned whether such a cost was justified , wether it could have been used in some other constructive way. At the time when the Opera house opened, the country was in need to inspire better economic conditions so this Royal House was seen as a big indulgence during that time at least.
Perhaps without Qaboos bin said al said, the Omani Sultan, the facility would never have been possible. He overthrew his father during a coup in 1970 and is famous for his liberal policies. It was because of his efforts that all censorship laws were removed and also granted women the right to vote. He has always been in favor of the cause of women equality and even appointed Christina Scheppelmann, the opera house’s director general.
The perfectly manicured gardens and the Grandiose building of the Royal Opera House is an example of contemporary Islamic architecture. The dazzling marble archways soaring at least 9 m high, quite intimidating and magnificent. The ceiling carved out of Burmese teak looks stunning. The Italian marble and Austrian lights add a lot of luxury to the design as well.
It is not just a lavish facility for the love of music. It has attracted talent worldwide and also received critical acclaim for excellent acoustics of its auditorium. The new and latest innovations also makes it one of the most advanced facilities in the world. The touch screens located behind every seat display translations of all the performances. At the touch of a button the hall transforms into a concert hall characterized by shoebox shaped hall with a ceiling that is flat.
The versatile nature of the Royal Opera House makes it capable enough to host almost any type of musical performance be it a Jazz concert or African Brass Band. The theaters success will be advantageous for Oman’s tourism that is already growing. With more players in the gulf serious about establishing their own facility things are going to get interesting in the Gulf.