Khorfakkan Amphiteatre

Khorfakkan, United Arab Emirates


OWNER: Government of Sharjah

LEAD DESIGN FIRM: Dar Al Omran Planning, Architecture, Engineering

LEAD CONTRACTOR: United Engineering Construction (Sharjah)


This spectacular performance venue, which seats 3,600, was carved out of a mountain facing the Persian Gulf. Developed by the Emirate of Sharjah, considered the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates, it was Inspired by Roman amphitheaters but also has many Islamic design elements. Designers added an impressive AV system and state-of-the-art outdoor air conditioning that extends facility operations, given extreme summer heat. Its white limestone was quarried in Oman. 

The chiller plant is located some distance away to avoid equipment noise or vibration during events and to ease access for maintenance crews. Numerous air-handling units are distributed uniformly throughout the venue. “The discharged, tempered air by air-handling units runs through insulated air ducts in concrete trenches behind and below guest seats,” says Mudhar Al Sammarraie, business development engineer at Jordanian design firm Dar Al Omran. “The tempered air then is discharged via well-distributed high-throw jet diffusers to ensure full coverage.” Dar Al Omran joined with UAE contractor United Engineering Construction as design-build partners. 

The project was fast-tracked from a February 2020 groundbreaking to open in December. Procurement was challenging, since many products had to be imported. The team proposed alternative design solutions and worked with multiple suppliers in parallel. Shortly after project start, the UAE instituted a lockdown and closed its borders, forcing all design to be done remotely. Craft workers were accommodated on a separate campus to reduce COVID-19 risks.