Khor Fakkan: It’s being hailed as an architectural marvel and it’s easy to see why.
The Roman-style Khor Fakkan Amphitheatre rises in semicircles, radiating outwards from the ground and going up into the Al Sayed mountainside where the waves of whitish marble-looking seating rows finally come to a rest. From the top, the amphitheatre offers sweeping views of the Khor Fakkan Corniche. Given it is a stone’s throw from the shore adds to the analogy of waves. At first look, it almost seems as if the giant new feature has been carved out of the dark-brown rock and then given a generous splash of brilliant white.
The ancient, Roman look is evident, complete with deliberately unfinished slabs on the entrance columns. But the landmark also has high-tech features discreetly built in, such as a unique temperature control system that will allow activities to be hosted year-round.
The high sun of noontime amplifies the brilliance of the amphitheatre against the dark background of the small mountain. At dusk, the whiteness carries shades of gold and pink from the setting sun. At night, the lighting system gives it any range of colours, depending on what show may be going on.
The amphitheatre, located in the eastern enclave of Sharjah emirate, is equally imposing in scale, not just in style. Spread over 19,000 square feet, it accommodates 3,600 spectators at any one time. Its stone facade has 235 arches and 295 columns.
The new attraction had sprung to life when His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the amphitheatre on December 14. He had then also inaugurated the ‘Waterfall Cave’ — another new feature adjacent to the amphitheatre, which is a purpose-built attraction carved out of an existing mountain in the area and offers vantage views of the picturesque costal city and its beaches.
It is situated 43 metres above sea level, starts from a natural mountain cave that is 45 metres long and 11 metres wide, with several openings overlooking a waterfall descending from the mountain. It houses a restaurant, a cafe, and a service room, and features outdoor seating. This new addition on the eastern UAE coast can also be used for business meetings. It can be accessed from the amphitheatre by lifts as well as a walkway.
On Tuesday, in the presence of Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council (SMC), guests and media were led on an introductory tour of the amphitheatre and the Waterfall Cave.
Speaking to Gulf News at Tuesday’s event, Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad said: “We would like to thank His Highness [Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad] for this great project. This is a project that will help us balance between the city of Sharjah and the cities of the east coast of the emirate of Sharjah. We in Sharjah are very keen on the cultural aspects of events and with this great amphitheatre we will have another extension to those activities here on the east coast. We’ll be having a lot of events here. We start with the main event on the 31st of this month [December] with [Emirati singer] Hussain Al Jassmi and from there we will take it forward with different activities that will balance between here and Al Majaz [in Sharjah city].”
During his visit, Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad underscored that the development of the Khor Fakkan Amphitheatre aligns with the vision of Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad to support and promote the emirate’s cultural and artistic landscape as part of Sharjah’s inclusive development strategy. Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmed, Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), and several members from local media houses outlets also attended the tour.
As the tour continued, the SMC Chairman briefed media representatives on the amphitheatre’s characteristics. Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmed said: “Historically, cultural hubs have played a key role in fuelling knowledge and creativity. Amphitheatres, in particular, have been serving as the gathering place for such pursuits, for centuries. The Khor Fakkan Amphitheatre is a spectacular new addition to the city’s cultural and touristic landscape.
“A popular destination in Sharjah, picturesque Khor Fakkan has served as a hub for people to explore art and culture, and connect with our natural landscape. This amphitheatre adds an accent to these experiences — opening a new window to the world to come and enjoy Emirati, Arab and international offerings right here in the UAE’s authentic locales.
“The amphitheatre is a new milestone in Sharjah’s development journey, and will serve as a prominent tourist destination, stimulating new economic growth, and usher lucrative business and employment opportunities in retail, hospitality and heritage sectors.
Earlier, between December 15 and 19, scores of residents and visitors across the UAE had visited the amphitheatre to watch the new film Khorfakkan, produced by Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, and participate in the inaugural festive activities held in the vast open-air venue.