Qatar’s Heenat Salma Farm implements a holistic mindset furthering real-life immersion and human connections.
The Al Shahaniya municipality of Qatar is an arid region with sunken lands and boundless plains. Nestled 40 minutes outside of the capital city of Doha is an eco-conscious haven called Heenat Salma Farm. Available to host guests for periods of time during the fall, winter, and spring seasons, it is an initiative dedicated to holistic methods in agriculture, architecture, and community development. In 2019, the prominent Al Attiya family – which includes Fahad Muhammad Abdullah Al Attiyah, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – and Caravane Earth Foundation, which promotes social, cultural, and ecological transformation, came together to address the need for ethical approaches to local agricultural initiatives. A group of enthusiastic specialists in agronomy, architecture, water infrastructure, and craftsmanship united to successfully transform a local farm into an organic permaculture center and farm stay that grows desert-friendly plants and vegetables, diversifies local food production, and contributes to a renewable, homegrown food supply in Qatar.
In addition to its focus on agriculture, the farm was also established as a place for hospitality, vocational training, education, craftsmanship,farm structures at Heenat Salma, Arturo Vittori, says, “It offers a unique experience to visitors to discover the ancient Qatari architectural and
agricultural techniques. Small-scale farming is merged with cutting-edge technologies to test the locally produced food.” He adds that this includes traditional Qatari cuisine consisting of rice, meat, and vegetables and a Qatari desert experience centered on community. “It is a full immersion in a very special place, in connection with people and their cultural interaction with their environments that has been created over centuries.”
Heenat Salma Farm’s mission is to spread the philosophy of working with, rather than against, nature, building a regenerative and self-maintained habitat and an agro-ecologically efficient system. The farming methods applied were chosen with the intention of shaping the mindset of future generations of Qatari people. “We offer a truly unique service, an opportunity to learn while getting a first-hand experience of farming and gardening in a real working environment,” says the Caravane team.
The interiors of the farm are designed to prioritize wellbeing. The guest lodges use traditional tents positioned around a central courtyard with a fire. This feature creates a natural anchor and a centripetal force that instils a sense of community and belonging on the outside, while the tent interiors provide simple, private, and refined dwellings. “We aim to create strong connections between nature and man-made environments which have benefits on productivity, enhancing creativity, improving wellbeing, reducing stress, and enhancing learning. This will help the community members to engender an appreciation of nature which can lead to greater protection of natural areas,” says Vittori.
The Majlis is central to the farm and is surrounded by the permaculture gardens, Sidr trees, and the camp. It houses a wellness treatment room, a library, an outdoor terrace for relaxation, and a lap pool. The farm grows 30 different crop varieties including carrots, coriander, beetroot, parsley, tomatoes, eggplants, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, and capsicum. Currently the farm has a wide variety of homegrown organic fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and eggs; while naturally sourced honey and meats are on the horizon. Meals are prepared by executive chef Oliver Dollard using fresh, seasonal, and homegrown produce picked right from the kitchen’s garden. Every dish reflects the season’s current offerings. With a menu that changes daily based on freshness and availability, the farm offers guests a range of tastes, from savory dishes to fresh fruits and vegetables. An emphasis is placed not only on what is served, but how it is offered. The focal point of the dining experience is the shared table for a collective experience, rather than the routine formality of a typical restaurant. The atmosphere encourages guests to interact with those around them. The table also showcases an eclectic mix of tableware handmade by local artisans from woods, clays, and ceramics. Fresh and local aren’t just words at Heenat Salma – they are the embodiment of the project.
Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Vogue Living Arabia