Muscat: Constructed from soft rocks in the form of a cave, a unique restaurant complex will open its doors to the public in the coming days to satisfy their curiosity by looking inside a development where there is more than meets the eye.
Hailed by officials as the first of its kind in the Arabian Peninsula and probably in the Arab world, the three-floor Cave restaurant complex at Darsait hills gives the guests an amazing bird's-eye view of the Muscat city.
The exceptional structure, which is earthquake-resistant, has been built by Falcon for Tourism Investments (FTI) at a cost of OMR7 million.
"The Ministry of Tourism was entrusted to build the Cave. Then they decided to give it to the private sector," Salim Al Siyabi, FTI's chairman, told the Times of Oman in an interview.
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"The initial idea was to create a restaurant in a cave, but we thought that creating one single restaurant in a cave, no matter how big it is, is going to be one single restaurant at the end of the day. So we thought of having more than one restaurant and more than one type of cuisine."
The structure features eight restaurants built on a covered area of 6,000 square metres, Al Siyabi said, adding the total development is spread over 50,000 square metres. The project started in early 2012 and the complex is scheduled to open on June 5, he noted.
A wide range of cuisine
Customers can enjoy a wide range of cuisine from different parts of the world served under one roof in a thrilling setup with a welcoming ambience.
Al Manjur, with a capacity of 120, will offer Omani food, while the 350-seat Harbour allows the clients to dive into seafood entrees.
A total of 180 people can sit at Asiana to explore the mysteries of India and the Far East. Clouds The Garden with 500 seats and Clouds The Terrace with a capacity of 300 to 350 will entertain the guests with Mediterranean and Lebanese food.
Apart from these five restaurants that are managed and operated by Falcon, there are three more restaurants which will be operated by other companies under FTI's supervision.
Riox will cater to those who are interested in the Brazilian cuisine, while Rumba Latina will provide a superb 'dine and dance' experience. Rossini will take the guests on an Italian voyage.
According to Al Siyabi, pub services are supposed to be there for all restaurants, but "it depends on the authorities concerned whether to give the licence or not."
"Each part of the Cave is a copy of elements in different caves around the world. We tried to make it look as natural as possible," Al Siyabi said, noting that local companies as well as firms from Italy, the United States and other countries were involved in designing the facility. This location was chosen as it is in the centre of the city and overlooks the city and the sea, he said.
"Also, at one end we have the airport and at the other end, there are several attractions, including the Al Bustan Palace, Shangri-La and Saraya Bandar Jissah, which is being developed."
Customers exploring the Cave need not worry about parking as the development can accommodate 450 cars.
This station for fine dining will employ over 300 workers, Falcon's chairman said, adding that the priority is for the locals.
"We will hire as many Omanis as we can afford and will provide them with practical training."
Asked about the price of the food at restaurants in the man-made Cave, Al Siyabi said that it is 'affordable'.
"It is not meant to be only for rich people but for those who admire this kind of environment. It is neither low-cost nor very high-cost." A large amount of money has been spent on this three-layer construction but "we do not think we should set very high prices because it was an expensive project," he added.
People should come and discover for themselves what is inside the Cave, Al Siyabi concluded.
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