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Among the olive trees and the horses: the unique wild treatment center in Nuweiba
In October 2020, I moved to the Bedouin city of Dahab in South Sinai. Two weeks later, I found myself in Nuweiba, where I visited a strange wilderness treatment center under construction. At the time, it was a vast empty land, with olive trees struggling to survive in the dry desert environment and one hut next to a lonely acacia tree.
Now, this place looks different, with blossoming olive trees, cultivated palm trees, various plants, as well as three huts; Workers’ houses, a stable and two yards, in addition to horses, camels, goats and dogs. The whole earth is charged with peaceful and invigorating energy.
The current environment clearly reflects the owner’s hard work and the positive emotions left by everyone who came to help.
From Trekking in the Desert to Building the Center: Abdel Salam’s Evolving Journey
Behind the essence of this unique project in the south of the Sinai Peninsula is Bilal Abdul Salam, the landowner.
Originally from Alexandria, Bilal has lived in Dahab since 2016. Coming to Sinai in need of a break from his hectic working life and recovery after the agonizing loss of his child, Bilal immediately established a deep bond with the land.
“I felt there was something pulling me into the desert to always come back. You know no [feeling of belonging]Abdul Salam says.
While walking in the vast desert, sometimes alone, and other times with local or travelers, Bilal became increasingly in touch with himself, and his immense self-awareness increased. He would write questions, thoughts, and words on his notebook every time he felt there was something worth jotting down.
In the meantime, he developed a deep knowledge of the area, the local Bedouin culture, traditions, and language. After six months of intense exploration across the Sinai, Bilal decided, without hesitation, to settle in Dahab and dedicate his life to sharing what he lived. His journey to recovery was just beginning, and with it, he began his Insights Seekers project.
Drawing on lessons learned during his time in the desert, Bilal designed excursions, rock climbing and horseback riding in the wilderness as an alternative for those seeking healing and self-discovery. The Insights Seekers’ outdoor activities aim to foster an environment conducive to meaningful growth.
After five years of leading successful expeditions, where foreigners, Egyptians, and members of the local Bedouin community gathered again and again in the wilderness to share incredibly life-changing experiences, Bilal has a surprising opportunity.
At the beginning of 2020, upon his return from Umrah, the small Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, his dream of establishing a wilderness treatment center in the Sinai Mountains became possible when a large land was up to eight. acre It became for sale in the neighboring city of Nuweiba. Bilal took a risk and bought it.
His intention was clear: to create a physical home for the Insights Seekers community, offering a safe haven to people seeking the best versions of themselves through contact with nature and outdoor activities, and most importantly, being in the company of animals with amazing healing powers: the horses.
Wild treat and horse therapy
Based on Insights Seekers’ founding mission, which is to accompany those in search of the best versions of themselves, Bilal envisions growing, from that deserted land, a healing center in the wilderness.
While the term therapy in the wild may be confusing because it includes a variety of definitions of self-improvement among people in the wild, listening to Bilal’s specific perception of the term lends the topic further clarity. In his view, outdoor activities in the wilderness constitute the ideal alternative to healing, as it enables people to find the time and space they desperately need to reconnect with themselves, in harmony with the surrounding environment.
The enthusiastic testimonies of people who joined Insights Seekers’ campaigns can only confirm what the research has long sought to prove. Contact with nature is one of the most powerful tools for motivating people to engage in a journey of self-discovery, inspiring the search for a meaningful and enjoyable life.
For this reason, Bilal envisioned a treatment center in the wilderness in the quiet town of Nuweiba, far from the urban distractions. Protected by a series of majestic mountains of dark colors and overlooking the vast and calm blue sea, the plot of land chosen by him will host various activities designed to promote healing and self-discovery.
Remarkably, the horses will be the champions of the Insights Seekers quest. After firsthand experience the extraordinary healing powers of horses, Bilal developed a deep knowledge of the interaction between humans and horses through specialized courses, readings, and continuous training.
Therefore, equine assisted therapy is the cornerstone of the wildlife retreat program.
Bilal knew that challenges would stand in the way of his ambitious project, but he did not deter him.
Consistency and Faith: Overcoming Challenges on the Way
From nothing, Bilal was able to literally grow life, as there are now plants, animals, and people who energize that once deserted space.
To reach this result, Bilal endured a long, arduous journey that began in March 2020. Bilal drove his car back and forth between Dahab and Nuweiba every Thursday and Sunday, at normal times, and every day of the week, when necessary.
“I almost gave up when I saw [my] Well-being ruined. However, there is something inside of me telling me to keep going, ”Bilal says.
Difficulties encountered during the construction of a well to bring running water to the ground were one of the main critical points in the process. After three failed attempts, the well is now running at a depth of 25 meters.
Transporting the animals to the farm was a similar challenge, and it was no easy task. However, Bilal was able to coordinate between the different people in need and use the only available means at his disposal to achieve this.
The horse stable, which was built very quickly by workers, currently hosts five horses: Zain, Tamim, Nidal and Bahr Ward, all of whom trained in two large yards. The camels, Baraka and Hassan, quietly enjoy the shade of the acacia tree, while the goats are left free, living with the dogs that live on the ground.
Bilal’s hard work, combined with his commitment and strong belief, were essential elements to achieving tangible results. The participation of more than 50 volunteers also proved beneficial in this process.
Collecting stones and exchanging ideas: a valuable contribution for volunteers
The Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy (1900-1989) often said: “Build your architecture from under your feet.” Inspired by this principle, Bilal looked under his feet to find the material he would use in building: stones.
So collecting stones became a major activity for the volunteers coming to the farm. With the help of precious volunteers, workers can build an existing toilet, kitchen, houses, stables and additional facilities.
With this seemingly insignificant task, the volunteers have found surprising amounts of benefits.
“It was great to do physical work on the farm.” Muhammad Subuh, one of the volunteers who participated in the project, said, “I felt re-energizing my body and clearing my mind.
Working with volunteers myself, I felt the rich value of this experience. Notably, the collection of stones reminded us of basic human principles, such as humility and patience.
Likewise, it has allowed us to feel a strong attachment to the earth, by bending over, digging the earth, and picking up stones. It was also a very satisfying activity because at the end of the day we were able to see the fruits of our labor in the form of piles of grouped stones. Last but not least, it created loneliness, in which strong bonds blossomed between people who share time and effort in that natural environment.
From dream to reality
This image was in my dreams. You reconnect on a deeper level with the horses when it is with their consent, ”Bilal wrote in an Instagram post on February 26th. Less than a year after the project started.
In this case, the purity of intention, intense passion and serious commitment paved the way for a successful journey. Despite the obvious challenges, Bilal pursued non-stop to achieve his goals, surrounded by a strong support system and guided by a strong faith.
Positively, a large number of people will benefit from his work, finding healing, comfort and inspiration from the simple splendor and strength of nature.
“This place represents hope. “From nothing, life grew,” Bilal says.
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