Sailing Through the Dubai Opera House

Last night Jimmy & I went to one of our favorite places in Dubai – the Dubai Opera House, which like the famous Sydney (Australia) Opera House, has a seafaring theme.  It is shaped like a large “dhow”, the type of ship used by the pearl divers here long ago (before the advent of “cultured pearls” and before the discovery of oil).  The front of the Opera House ship – the bow – faces the famous Dubai Fountains and the Burj Khalifa.  The stern faces the main downtown Boulevard, and is the primary entrance.  It is a huge, hulking but graceful and elegant landlocked ship-like structure.  Definitely iconic.

Within the Opera House hull, it is not only “opera” that takes place – there are dance, pop artists, musical theater, pianists performances… to name a few.  Last night we even saw comedians perform (the tour was called “Arabs Are Not Funny”, but these comedians definitely were…)  Jimmy and I have seen many types of performances at the Opera House but have never taken a tour of the building, so on a sweltering day we decided to do so.

The Dubai Opera offers tours twice a day on weekends; you just sign up on the website and pay 75AED (about $20) and show up at the box office.   You will get to see some parts of the Opera House not open to the public – like the VIP lounges and the area exclusively for royal family.  And you get to hear more about the building itself:

  • Inside, you can see that the wooden “hull” encases the concert hall itself.  The surrounding walkways signify water (which is mirrored in the water features that flow alongside the building).
  • It is amazingly versatile – it can convert to a flat space for large dinner (or other food) events, a convention, or other large, non-performance gatherings.  There is a separate studio for more intimate events.
  • The seafaring theme is carried out through many elements – for instance, the lamps throughout evoke flying fish, and the carpeting in the hall has a string of pearls pattern.

The Dubai Opera House, to me, is most beautiful at night, when it glows enticingly and when the guests inside become performers to those outside looking in.  The gigantic chandelier facing the fountains pulses with light and from afar looks like it is itself part of the fountains.

If you want to take a closer look at downtown Dubai’s own performing arts vessel, my first recommendation is to buy tickets to a performance (, which is the best way to experience the Opera House.  Then if you want to take a closer look, you can book tours on the same website.  I give it a resounding “BRAVO”!

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