ALULA: In the heart of AlUla’s Oasis, Daimumah — a name derived from the Arabic word for sustainability — is the site of an attraction for visitors looking for an experience that combines local heritage, art and nature.
Dooma, a subsidiary of Noma Hub that crafts “inclusive sustainability experiences,” offers the chance to participate in restoration work in the belief that “the best kind of travel is travel with a purpose.”
The word “dooma” is derived from the Nabatean language and refers to anyone who works with mud. Yahya Allawati, the cofounder of Dooma, said during a recent visit to AlUla that the mission was deeply tied to preserving the region’s deep-rooted and rich heritage.
Dooma’s immersive experiences provide visitors with a hands-on approach to learning about the mud houses and building techniques of AlUla, focusing on the raw materials, their origins, and fermentation processing techniques.
Visitors not only learn about these processes but also actively participate in making mud bricks and renovating heritage sites. On arrival, visitors are given aprons and straw hats to prepapre for a mud-full experience.
Allawati stressed the dual benefit of this heritage restoration: “The restoration not only allows preserving the stories and values of the diverse societies that once thrived in AlUla, but it also allows us to tap into their timeless wisdom and intellect that led to their prosperity.”
One of the core attractions at Dooma is the opportunity to explore the ancient mud house building process, including making mud bricks, which differs significantly from the modern approach of using cement and blocks.
The mud used in this experience is made from pure AlUla oasis mud, mixed with water and straw by participants, offering an authentic connection to heritage. The process involves mud-mixing, texture assessment, brick-making using a wooden mold, then drying the fresh bricks in sunlight for two weeks.
Heritage is more than tangible materials that we can see or touch — it represents the ideas and sentiments that a people embodied.
Yahya Allawati, Dooma cofounder
“The mud used for heritage sites requires a minimum of 14 days of fermentation,” Allawati said. “In the visitor’s experience, the mud is not fermented to allow for hands-on mixing and a tangible connection to the Earth’s materials, making it unsuitable for heritage sites.”
The experiences at Dooma extend beyond the physical processes of heritage restoration; they delve into the core cultural values of communities that lived in simplicity and security, highlighting the worth of social amity and the willingness to help and be helped.
As Allawati aptly put it: “Heritage is more than tangible materials that we can see or touch — it represents the ideas and sentiments that a people embodied.”
As the immersive mud experience comes to a close, visitors are invited to take part in the ultimate indulgence — a soothing mud bath pool where they can play and relax.
Another experience offered by Dooma is “Reviving Nature,” an innovative project that invites visitors to tackle palm frond waste by contributing repurposed frond petals to the dome sculpture called “Tanafaas,” meaning “breathing” in Arabic. It is a living artwork that allows air and light to pass through its petals, creating a stunning visual and sensory experience.
Visitors are invited to participate in weaving sessions with local experts, learning how to work with palm fronds to create boards that will form the sustainable dome placed within Daimumah. The dome’s exterior has 700 petals, expertly shaped to resemble the elegant trunks of palm trees.
Made using recycled palm fronds, each panel is adorned with personal stories written by participants. The exterior of the half-dome structure is crafted using locally sourced palm fronds from AlUla’s palm trees. Inside, the seating is made of wood, while the natural dirt floor adds a grounding element, allowing visitors to connect with the earth beneath their feet and feel a sense of belonging.
Najla Bokhari, one of the participants, said: “The experience helped me to explore more about the significance of how sustainability promotes environmental awareness and fosters a connection to nature.”
Allawati added: “Tanafaas is a testament to sustainability and the power of green buildings. It conveys a profound message about the importance of environmental consciousness and the creative use of recycled materials sourced locally.”
Both Dooma experiences are available to visitors until the end of November.