DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai, a tourist destination synonymous with shopping malls and luxury resorts, aims to add high culture to its attractions as it opens an opera house in the shadow of the world's tallest building.


The 2,000-seat Dubai Opera welcomes its first guests on Wednesday night with a performance by Spanish tenor Placido Domingo. In coming months, performers from around the world will stage operas, ballets, concerts, musicals and a magic show there.


Built in the shape of a dhow - a type of wooden boat common in the Gulf for centuries - the glass-and-steel opera house is located in the glitzy downtown district next to the Burj Khalifa, at 829.8 meters (2,722 feet) the world's tallest skyscraper.


Project developer Emaar Properties, part-owned by the Dubai government, has declined to say how much it cost.


Dubai Opera's chief executive Jasper Hope told DubaiEye 1038FM radio that bookings for performances had been received from as far as the United States and Australia.


Other oil-exporting states in the region have also sought to attract visitors with high-profile cultural projects. Oman opened an opera house in 2011, Bahrain opened one of the Middle East's largest theaters in 2012 and Abu Dhabi is building a branch of the Louvre museum.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by John Stonestreet)