Embracing Ancient Wisdom for Modern Healing at Zulal Wellness Resort | Savoir Flair
Health & Wellness
Embracing Ancient Wisdom for Modern Healing at Zulal Wellness Resort
by Jana Shakhashir 10-minute read November 24, 2023

Discover a journey of healing and transformation through age-old practices in the tranquil sands of Qatar.


There's an unbeatable satisfaction that comes with nailing down a solid, empowering routine. Mornings spent working out, dry brushing, and journaling, all before the clock strikes 9am, or evenings that wind down with a precise skincare regimen, at least ten pages of a novel, and your go-to roster of nighttime supplements. These routines aren't just tasks; they're rituals that put us in the driver's seat of our own well-being. It's that hit of control in this chaotic world that gets us hooked, making routines our favorite kind of addiction. But as with anything, there's a catch. While they steer us towards wellness, they can just as quickly become our own personal double-edged sword.

On one hand, routines keep us grounded, focused, and ready to conquer our days. On the other, if you cling too tightly, they start to strangle the very flexibility and joy they're supposed to bring us. I had reached that point where the scale tipped, where the off chance of a derailed routine – skipping a workout after a late night of work or missing my morning journaling because of an early meeting – sent me spiraling. My pursuit of perfection through rigid schedules was backfiring, turning my structured sanctuary into a stress-inducing cage.

My life at this point was running like clockwork. Work out, work, wind down, repeat – everything was slotted neatly into my daily agenda. With the holiday season around the corner, I wanted to look and feel my best, and I was well on my way. But then, life, as it does, had other plans. A seemingly innocent night out dancing at a friend’s wedding ended with a knee injury that forced me to hit pause on everything. Rest, the very antithesis of my daily regimen, was now prescribed as the remedy, and it felt more like a punishment than a path to healing.

Suddenly, I was at odds with my own body, negotiating with it to heal quickly, to get back to "normal" so I could get back in the gym. But injuries don't work on our timelines, and neither does recovery. As I navigated this unexpected detour, the opportunity to visit Zulal Wellness Resort presented itself – a chance to escape, to heal, and perhaps to find a silver lining amidst the disruption.  Little did I know, this journey would unfold as a profound learning experience for me. It wasn't just a much-needed break and change of scenery, but a series of revelations that would shift my perspective on health, wellness, and medicine.


My time at Zulal was a grounding force, pulling me back to Earth in more ways than one. The resort's daily rhythm is governed by the sun, dictating when we eat, sleep, and engage in activities. It was a return to a more natural way of living, a reminder of our deep connection to the world around us. I didn't need to constantly check the time; I simply moved with the day. Even the resort itself was a testament to harmony with nature. Villas and pathways blended seamlessly into the surroundings, making me wonder why the entire planet wasn’t designed this way in the first place.

But the warmth of the resort extended far beyond the sun. My interactions were marked by the staff's heartfelt "Marhaba," a simple word that carried so much sincerity it made me feel right at home. Watching the staff interact was like witnessing a tight-knit family; their genuine smiles and hugs as they greeted each other created an atmosphere of care and community that permeated the resort. It was clear that here, warmth and human connection were integral not only to guest relations but also to the healing environment itself. It's as if the resort understood that sometimes, the most healing thing is just a kind word or a sincere smile, reminding us that we have each others’ backs.


Then came the digital detox. At Zulal, the Wi-Fi disappears the moment you step out of your room, a hard stop that forced me to reevaluate my relationship with my phone. Initially, being disconnected was uncomfortable and slightly alarming, showing me clear signs that I had a full-blown phone addiction and the attention span of an iPad baby. (I may or may not have bought roaming data so I could scroll from waiting rooms in between treatments on my first day.) But after the initial withdrawals, it was a gift. It gave me space to really soak in my surroundings, to fully immerse myself in the treatments, and most importantly, to confront my codependent relationship with technology. I began to not just endure but appreciate the quiet moments, the pauses, the feeling of being present in the here and now. Instead of instinctively reaching for my phone to fill every spare second with noise, I learned to embrace the stillness, let my mind wander, and just be.


The treatments at Zulal were nothing short of spectacular. Each session was a testament to the therapists' expertise and skill. The precision of their technique, the soothing ambiance of the space, and the overall serenity of the treatment rooms contributed to a sense of perfection that I had never experienced elsewhere. It was a symphony of sensory immersions designed not just to heal the body but also to soothe the soul. And then, there was the food. Each meal was an even combination of taste and nutrition, perfectly balancing indulgence with health. The menus were thoughtfully crafted, featuring an array of dishes that made your taste buds dance while fulfilling your body's nutritional needs depending on your personalized program. Every dish set a new standard for what healthy eating can and should be like.

I was going in with the MINDSET that I’d just have an Eat Pray Love moment of temporary experimentation with "woo-woo" wellness because I spent my WHOLE LIFE believing that Western medicine was the zenith of health care.


But the heart of my journey at Zulal was the introduction to Traditional Arabic Islamic Medicine (TAIM). TAIM is more than just a medical practice; it is a holistic approach to wellness that intertwines spiritual, physical, and emotional health, drawing from centuries of knowledge and understanding. It dates back to the great works of scholars like Ibn Sina, whose seminal book The Canon of Medicine laid the foundation for both Eastern and Western medical sciences. 

Despite being Arab and Muslim, I was quite apprehensive about TAIM when I was heading to Zulal. I was going in with an open mind, of course, but with the mindset that I’ll have an Eat Pray Love moment of temporary experimentation with "woo-woo" wellness, and that’s it, because I spent my whole life believing that Western medicine was the zenith of health care. Barring some fun facts about the health benefits of dates during Ramadan and being force-fed a giant tablespoon of honey whenever I had a cold, my parents were always very much Team Conventional Doctors and Antibiotics. It's only in my adulthood that I've begun opening myself up to alternative medical practices, and it’s been life-changing. 


My encounter with TAIM began with a consultation that felt more like an energy reading than a medical diagnosis. Dr. Mubaris Ahamed, a qualified Unani Medical Practitioner and Cupping Therapy Specialist at the resort started by explaining that TAIM combines a rich tapestry of Islamic medicine, Ayurveda, Chinese traditional medicines (TCM), Unani, and Persian medicines, all interwoven into a holistic approach centered on medicinal herbs, dietary practices, mind-body therapy, applied therapy, and spiritual healing. Central to TAIM is the concept of four humors: yellow bile, black bile, phlegm, and blood. These are not just bodily fluids but represent a balance of elements within us, impacting our health and temperament. Just as nature consists of four elements – earth, water, air, and fire – so do we. Each element correlates with different aspects of our temperament, affecting how we think, feel, and respond to the world around us. Earth is like the ground beneath our feet, solid and stable but cold and dry, while water is fluid and adaptable. Air is like the breath of life, warm and moist, and fire is the transformative force, hot and dry. Understanding these elements and how they manifest in us as different temperaments is key to TAIM, guiding how practitioners approach healing and wellness.

Dr. Ahamed delved into my eating and sleeping habits, of course, but he also ventured into territories of my emotional state, stress levels, and even aspects of my personality that I barely acknowledge myself. Within minutes, he was completing my sentences, identifying that I’m an overthinker and that I put others’ needs before my own. I questioned what the relevance was to my physical health, but continued listening. He identified me as an Earth type, which meant my constitution leaned towards stability and endurance, but also a predisposition to sluggishness and a need for warmth and moisture to balance. Earth types are often seen as grounded and nurturing, yet when out of balance, they can become overly cautious or inflexible. Queue an, “OMG, so true,” moment. 

Following the temperament analysis, Dr. Ahamed presented me with a set of "lifestyle recommendations" tailored to my specific needs. The advice was organized around six essential factors: the air I breathe, the food and drink I consume, my physical and mental activity and rest, my patterns of sleep and wakefulness, and my body's natural processes of retention and evacuation. It might sound overwhelming, but it essentially boiled down to practical, everyday choices. For instance, he suggested adding warming foods like broccoli and root vegetables to my diet, pinpointing short, high-intensity exercises as the most beneficial for my body type, and advising that my optimal sleep lies between 6-7 hours. He also recommended certain medicinal herbs and natural remedies aimed at countering dryness and aiding stress management. Most importantly, he urged me to practice mindfulness and meditation to appease the voice in my head telling me I was not doing enough.


The beauty of TAIM, I discovered, is that it just makes sense. It didn't come across as alternative or "woo-woo" at all, but rather as a logical, comprehensive approach to well-being. The depth of knowledge and the practical nature of the advice offered by Dr. Ahamed, a highly qualified practitioner, dismantled my internal bias. It was a reminder that legitimate medicine comes in various forms and that opening ourselves up to the wisdom of different traditions can be both enlightening and profoundly effective. The practitioners at Zulal, all with medical degrees in their respective fields, exemplified the power of fusing traditional wisdom with scientific validation, making the whole experience not just enlightening but deeply credible.

During an osteopathy session aimed at addressing my knee injury, I was blown away by the osteopath's intuitive understanding of its root causes. Remarkably, she identified the impact of having grown up with spiral stairs in my home – a detail I had never mentioned, nor had any doctor or physical therapist ever pointed out before – as a long-term contributor to my persistent knee pain. She didn't stop there. The revelations continued, as she attributed my injury to a vitamin D deficiency I hadn't disclosed, my tendency not to drink enough water, and my flat feet – all while my shoes were still firmly on. I was astounded; these were facts I had never shared with her, yet they were all accurate. The session transcended traditional pain management; it was a profound revelation of the interconnectedness of my body's narrative. It made me realize that the path to relief was not only through rest or targeted exercises but through a holistic approach.

Zulal reminded me that TRUE WELLNESS is less about rigid adherence to a set of activities and more about an overall softer, more receptive approach to living.


I can confidently say that I left Zulal with a fresh perspective, filled with insights about my health that stretched far beyond not only physical care but, most importantly, beyond what I was hearing on the internet. The whole journey nudged me to reconsider my unshakeable faith in rigid routines because, ultimately, they didn’t protect me from injury. Yes, they have their place, but my time at Zulal underscored the importance of a more forgiving and holistic approach to health. 

Real health isn't about fitting into a specific mold or strictly adhering to what worked for someone else. It's personal and unique, a mix of what your body, mind, and spirit need at different times. It's about tuning in and really listening – to the subtle cues of your body and the emotional signals of your mind and adapting as you go. It's recognizing the need for a warm, grounding meal, an extra hour of sleep, or a moment of quiet amidst a hectic day.

I learned that while discipline is valuable, so is kindness and flexibility towards oneself, and the way we speak to ourselves is equally as important as our exercise routines and eating habits. Zulal reminded me that true wellness is less about rigid adherence to a set of activities and more about an overall softer, more receptive approach to living. It's about creating a lifestyle that's supportive, not punitive – one that encourages growth and well-being in a way that's sustainable and enjoyable. So, while my morning and evening routines still hold their sacred place, they now come with a gentle reminder: to remain open, adaptable, and kind to whatever needs may arise, crafting not just a productive life but one filled with ease and genuine well-being.

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