This month, we’re going to take a look at the pursuit of wellness in the Middle East, from Dubai to Kuwait and elsewhere. The region is a popular choice among expats, when it comes to both employment and lifestyle: a sunny climate and a wide array of amenities for residents make many countries in the region a family-friendly choice. If it’s wellness you’re after, as an antidote to a busy job, there are numerous options.
Exercise Options in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia expats will find a large of variety of sports to choose from, with hiking, paddleboarding, boating, swimming and racket sports, such as padel, being widespread across the region. In Dubai, the city’s padel club, Matcha, has become a major wellness hub, featuring meditation and yoga classes as well as their signature sports courts. Pilates classes are also numerous in Dubai, such as Posture on the Golden Mile, Mojo Reformer in the Concord Tower, Align Pilates and Level Up Pilates. Cultivate, off Al Wasl Road, is also a top choice for a family-run studio.
Other establishments which offer wellness options include the Museum of the Future, which has a whole floor dedicated to the future of wellness. This aims to encourage people to move away from focusing solely on technology – although the ultrasonic therapy is a standout feature! But the site also features a sand bath, sound therapy and a meditation centre, which uses the sound and sight of water to induce relaxation. Also featuring water, Regis at the Palm has the world’s highest infinity pool, and you can take yoga classes at this venue, too.
Wellness retreats are also growing in popularity in Saudi Arabia. The Red Sea Project aims to blend conservation with high end tourism. Triple Bay in Amaala (part of the Saudi Vision 2030 programme) is set up as a wellness hub, described by SV 2030 as ‘ultra luxury.’ It will offer state of the art medical facilities, including diagnostics in neuroscience and other areas. Amaala has just announced the first of its new hotels, Clinique La Prairie Health Resort. More than just a luxury hotel, this venue will focus on nutrition, medical care, movement and well-being and is a full-scale medical centre to boot, with treatment facilities for diabetes, insomnia, fatigue, and other conditions, plus a radiology lab.
This type of centre may be the future of medical tourism, where medical treatments are combined with wellness experiences; this is definitely an exciting sector that will see further development in the future. Amaala is due to be finished in 2027, and both this and the Red Sea Project are intended to run on entirely on renewable energy.
The wellness industry in Saudi also offers unique experiences, such as full and new moon massages, desert sanctuary retreats such as Habitas AlUla, near Herga, with a huge range of Ayurvedic treatments, and Al-Ahsa oasis, which features around 150 hot and cold springs, many of them with mineral content. The nation also features numerous spas and luxury hotels.
Wellness in Kuwait
Kuwait also hosts a number of wellness centres, which combine educational services – for instance, teaching you how to cook – and spa treatments, plus meditation. Some of these are located within campuses and corporate venues. Many of them focus on dealing with work-related stress and emphasise the development of your creativity (these centres are popular among artists, for instance). Others specialise in treating addictions, from smoking to alcoholism, and some are dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders.
Ancient and Modern Treatments in Egypt
Egypt is a one of the most popular destinations for wellness in the Middle East. With a history of alternative medicine dating back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, who were great believers in the power of magic to treat illnesses, there is a strong tradition of diagnosing diseases, such as diabetes, and a sophisticated understanding of surgery.
Cupping, a practice used by the ancient Egyptians, is still available. Other treatments which you can access are more aligned with contemporary alternative health practices such as reflexology and aromatherapy, but there are some treatments which are specific to Egypt, such as swimming in the restorative Red Sea or taking sand baths in oases such as Siwa, where you are buried in sand up to your neck. Herbal steam baths are popular in Cairo, or you can access some of the high-end luxury treatments in the city, such as the spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Nile Plaza.
The Turkish Hamman
Turkey has a wide variety of restorative treatments: the country is, after all, the home of the Hammam, the world-famous steam bath which has been a crucial aspect of Turkish culture for over a thousand years. Hydrothermal treatments are widespread and popular. Beyond Istanbul, centres such as Six Senses Kaplankaya or Sianji Well-Being Resort at Bodrum (which runs a series of nutritional retreats) are ideal destinations to recover your equilibrium.
A Range of Wellness Options in Israel
Last but not least, Israel has a variety of wellness centres, including many located on the shores of the Dead Sea. Hiking in the fascinating Negev desert is also on offer, and Israel, like other nations in the region, has a plethora of luxury hotels, all with spa treatments on offer. Yoga retreats are popular here, as well as mind detox retreats and trauma release retreats (remember to check out the psychiatric credentials of anyone offering this form of treatment). Israel also offers various spiritual workshops and programmes, some of which focus on New Age practices.
If you’re living and working in the Middle East, you have a considerable variety of options to choose from when it comes to wellness, and it makes sense, if you are based in the region, to take advantage of some of the interesting treatments and experiences that are on offer in this part of the world.