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Rediscovering Time-Honoured Traditions: The Resurgence of Hammam Rituals in Saudi Arabia

Unsplash Indivar Kaushik

Nestled in the heart of the Middle East, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a treasure trove of timeless traditions and a rich cultural heritage. Among these cherished customs, Hammam rituals are a testament to the region’s profound reverence for wellness and communal connection. Once relegated to the recesses of history, the Hammam experience, known as the Turkish bath, is now undergoing a remarkable revival. Its popularity is growing within the kingdom and among global travellers eager to immerse themselves in these rejuvenating age-old practices.

The burgeoning interest in Hammam mirrors our contemporary fascination with the re-emergence of ancient beauty rituals. In recent years, the Hammam has been the focus of renewed attention, akin to other traditional practices from around the world, such as China’s jade gua sha, India’s Ayurvedic acupressure massages, Egypt’s milk baths, and the use of natural botanical ingredients like rose oil, turmeric, and green tea. The Hammam has reclaimed its lustre, transforming into a modern spa ritual that bridges the gap between the old and the new.

A captivating portal to the past, the Hammam, an Eastern sibling of the steam bath, has deep roots entwined with Moroccan traditions, echoing back to the times of the Ottoman and Roman Empires. This practice transcends being a cleansing ritual and is also a vibrant social hub. For centuries, locals have gathered weekly at Hammams, cultivating a community spirit that is as revitalising as the Hammam experience itself.

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A visit to the Hammam invites travellers to embark on a wellness journey that begins with a thorough cleansing process. This ritual is performed in a humid steam chamber, where experienced attendants prepare the visitor’s skin with soap before guiding them into a hot steam room. The enveloping warmth opens the pores and softens the skin, preparing it for the subsequent exfoliating process.

Armed with a fine-grained kessa glove and traditional black soap crafted from olive oil, the Hammam therapist scrubs the body, removing dead skin cells and impurities. This full-body exfoliation rejuvenates the skin and purifies the spirit, releasing pent-up tension and negativity.

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The Hammam experience has the ability to aid prevalent skin concerns. Exfoliating alleviates acne and blackheads and unveils a new, radiant complexion, smoothing out texture and reducing discolourations, unveiling a radiant complexion. It also softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, yielding a more youthful visage. In addition, the Hammam ritual helps prevent ingrown hairs and reduces the visibility of stretch marks. Although eliminating imperfections completely may not be feasible, regular exfoliation promotes skin rejuvenation, gradually reducing their visibility.

Following the scrub, a rhassoul mineral clay mask is applied to the body, face, and hair, which is gently shampooed off. This unique clay, sourced exclusively from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, has been cherished for over a thousand years, earning a reputation for its healing properties owing to its rich mineral composition, including skin-enhancing magnesium and silica.

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The mask serves a multitude of purposes: combating acne, purging impurities, enhancing skin elasticity, and acting as an exfoliant. Additionally, its natural silica imparts a glossy sheen to the hair. The rhassoul clay mask also works wonders for the scalp, purifying and adding volume to the hair. The result is rejuvenated skin and hair that radiates vitality.

The Hammam experience transcends being merely a physical journey; it is also a social one. Particularly for women, Hammam facilities serve as a gathering place, offering travellers an excellent platform to interact with locals, enriching their journey with authentic cultural exchanges and a deeper immersion into local customs and traditions.

The Hammam experience culminates in a cold room, where the remaining residues are gently cleansed away. The contrasting temperatures stimulate circulation and promote detoxification, leaving the guest feeling profoundly rested and rejuvenated. While Hammam rituals are traditionally shared experiences, some facilities cater to those who prefer a more private encounter.

Renowned for their luxury and hospitality, GHM Hotels extend the Hammam experience to discerning patrons at The Spa within The Chedi Al Bait and The Chedi Katara. This Hammam encounter, artfully fusing time-honoured traditions with contemporary expressions of luxury, is poised to attain new heights with the forthcoming unveiling of The Chedi Hegra, slated to open its doors in December 2023. Anticipate GHM Hotels’ exquisite rendition of a wellness odyssey, thoughtfully designed to cater to the desires of today’s travellers while venerating the historical underpinnings of this time-honoured ritual.

Whether a traveller is a seasoned explorer searching for a distinctive cultural immersion or a wellness enthusiast eager to partake in holistic practices, the Hammam rituals at The Chedi Hotels & Resorts present a transcendent voyage into the timeless wellness traditions of Saudi Arabia.

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