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Are you looking for a relaxing getaway? Check out these must-visit wellness gems

Across five countries in the MENA region, these retreats offer distinctive treatments and much-needed quietude

[Source photo: Banyan Tree AlUla/Habitas AlUla/Anatara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort/Al Maha | Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Traveling to improve one’s mental or physical health is not new. People have sought the benefits of the seaside or mountain air for centuries.

There’s a staggering rise in wellness tourism, and the Middle East encompasses a treasure trove of wellness retreats committed to revitalizing the mind, body, and soul. 

From time-honored practices to modern luxury, the region boasts a rich history of holistic wellness practices dating back thousands of years and luxury resorts that offer state-of-the-art spa facilities and personalized detox programs.

Here are five wellness destinations worth exploring:


Nestled amongst the sandstone cliffs of Saudi Arabia, Al-Ula is an ancient city steeped in history. Once a bustling stop on the incense route, it’s now transforming into a unique desert sanctuary for modern-day travelers seeking serenity.

Finding affordable lodging in this developing tourist destination can be tricky, especially during peak season. Options range from campsites and holiday homes to opulent resorts like Banyan Tree and Habitas, renowned for their luxurious spa experiences.

Wellness lies at the heart of Banyan Tree’s philosophy, offering treatments like massages, facials, and scrubs within calming havens where walls of compressed sand mirror the desert’s hues. But the crown jewel of the spa remains the infinity-edge rock pool. Tucked between towering cliffs, it boasts unobstructed views of the vast valley beyond. 

Within the ethereal Ashar Valley, amidst soaring rock formations and endless desert plains, Habitas AlUla invites a focus on social connection and transformative wellness programs.

The resort’s Thuraya wellness center offers rejuvenating spa treatments, yoga classes, and access to a high-tech gym. Habitas’ dynamic program offers something for everyone, featuring world-class wellness classes and workshops led by visiting experts in various fields.

Both resorts are near the ancient Nabataean city of Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting 111 beautifully preserved carved tombs.


Nestled amidst the rugged terrain of Oman’s Ad Dakhiliyah Governorate lies Jebel Akhdar, a majestic peak soaring to an impressive height of 2,980 meters. This mountainous marvel is revered for its breathtaking Saiq Plateau, which sits gracefully at 2,000 meters above sea level. Jebel Akhdar is renowned for its intricate network of wadis and meticulously terraced orchards, where an abundance of pomegranates, apricots, and roses flourish under its mild Mediterranean climate.

Within this picturesque landscape lies one of the region’s most ambitious wilderness hotels, offering luxury and escapism. Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar resort leads one of the region’s growing hospitality trends, where hotels are pushing the boundaries by establishing themselves in unexpected and breathtakingly extreme locations. 

Its true allure lies in its ability to provide a sanctuary for relaxation and adventure. Whether guests are rappelling down the mountain slopes or indulging in rejuvenating spa treatments, the hotel offers an escape from the ordinary.


Nestled on scenic Qatar’s northern coast, Al Ruwais, Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som is a haven for holistic rejuvenation guided by the ancient wisdom of Traditional Arabic Islamic Medicine (TAIM).

Partnered with renowned Thai wellness brand Chiva-Som, Zulal offers a personalized program integrating TAIM principles, which include dietary adjustments, mindful movement, and rejuvenating spa treatments – all tailored to your unique needs.

A dedicated team of TAIM specialists, ayurveda doctors, and TCM experts, guided by an entire medical team of internists, nurses, and dermatologists, offer guests expert guidance and a personalized journey to well-being.

Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai

The Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa provides luxurious accommodations and multiple rejuvenating offerings. Guests can unwind by the outdoor pool, challenge themselves at the fitness center, or indulge in the timeless spa experience. They can also treat themselves to aromatherapy or experience the traditional Arabian rasoul chamber’s cleansing steam and mud ritual.

One of the resort’s main allures lies in its activities, from horseback riding across the majestic dunes and following ancient camel trails to embarking on a nature drive and discovering the hidden wonders of the desert ecosystem.


Perhaps the most economical option of the bunch is Egypt’s Siwa Oasis, nestled between the Qattara Depression and the Great Sand Sea, and was recognized as a global medical and environmental tourism destination in 2017. Full of various affordable accommodation options and eco-lodges, the oasis offers a unique blend of affordability, adventure, and ancient wellness practices. 

Immerse yourself in Siwa’s rich history of holistic practices. Indulge in the renowned sand baths, a seasonal tradition that enhances health and well-being. The desert sand reaches its peak heat from mid-June to mid-September, creating a natural thermal therapy experience.

Venture east of Siwa and discover the mesmerizing salt lakes. Float effortlessly in the buoyant waters, boasting a salinity of almost 95%. These hidden gems are believed to possess therapeutic properties for skin, eye, and sinus conditions, making Siwa a unique medical and recreational destination.

The oasis is also home to over 200 natural springs. Soak in the rejuvenating warmth of the natural hot springs, open until late at night. Imagine gazing at a star-studded sky while your body relaxes in the mineral-rich waters – a truly magical experience. The Almaza Hot Springs and Hayat Siwa Hot Springs are two must-visit spots.

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