Start counting: Development underway for Saudi first dedicated opera house

Destined for Riyadh and set to open in 2028, the Kingdom’s newest location will celebrate local heritage, alongside culture and arts


Set against the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif in Diriyah, the upcoming Royal Diriyah Opera House is poised to redefine the nation’s arts and culture landscape.

Part of a larger project to redevelop the Diriyah area as a go-to destination for locals and visitors to enjoy entertainment, dining and the arts, whilst also paying homage to the local history and culture, the brand-new Royal Diriyah Opera House is planned to open in 2028.

This will be the Kingdom’s first dedicated opera house.

Diriyah is known for its traditional Najdi architecture; pale, sandy coloured mud-brick structures, with uneven pattern detailing on the cornice (top edges) of the buildings. This historic design is replicated in the regions new Diriyah Gate and Bujairi Terrace destinations.

Designed by internationally acclaimed Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta together with Riyadh-based firm, Syn Architects, the construction and development of the opera house will overseen by Diriyah Company, whilst its operations will be managed by the Royal Commission for Riyadh.

The area will also include garden spaces, cafes and a selection of art installations by local creatives, one of which has been confirmed as fine arts graduate, Maha Malluh.

The Royal Diriyah Opera House will marry modern design with elements of traditional Najdi form, and will span a monumental 46,000 square metres. Four theatres will this welcome an impressive 3,500 patrons, with each theatre destined for distinctive performances.

However it is the main hall that is set to truly wow audiences, the main opera setting will feature a 2000-seat theatre, and is destined for grand-scale international productions and will showcase renowned artists.

Adding depth and versatility to this cultural destination, the opera house location will feature two additional theatre venues, each are planned to be 450-seat ‘flexible’ theatre spaces that will showcase more intimate productions and events. One will be a covered amphitheatre space to accommodate outdoor performances, and provide a background of views over the historic Diriyah City.

From the opulence of main opera hall to the intimacy and unique aspects of the smaller theatres, the Royal Diriyah Opera House is primed to become the epicentre of arts and culture, embracing a wide variety of performances from local and international talent, and will provide a platform for creativity to flourish.


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