The Bridge Lifestyle Hub in Al Qana: an exclusive look inside the Abu Dhabi wellness space

The holistic hub is scheduled to open in December

Across four floors sits a gym, spa, restaurant, juice bar, nutrition corner, shop, indoor running track and rooftop garden. Welcome to The Bridge Lifestyle Hub.

The 8,000-square-metre wellness space is set to be the next project to open at Al Qana, the new waterfront destination in Abu Dhabi. It's scheduled to initially open in December, but that will happen in phases, with the plan for it to be fully functional by February. Exact dates are yet to be announced.

More than simply a fitness destination, The Bridge aims to fuse all aspects of wellness into a lifestyle through a holistic approach.

“We put together a concept where we are bridging all kinds of lifestyle elements into one,” says Canadian-Jordanian co-founder Khalid Nahhas. “So it's a 24/7 mindset or shift towards wellness, so you no longer need longer look at it as something you do three or four times or five times a week – it’s really around the clock, that's the main driver.

“So you are aware of what your body, your spirit really needs all the time."

Quote
If you're an art lover, you're going to enjoy this place. If you're a foodie, you're going to enjoy this place. If you're a nature lover, you're going to enjoy this place
Khalid Nahhas, co-founder, The Bridge Lifestyle Hub

Nahhas says it's not only for the health-conscious among us. “If you're an art lover, you're going to enjoy this place. If you're a foodie, you're going to enjoy this place. If you're a nature lover, you're going to enjoy this place. But guess what? They're all important for your wellness.

“But it's also a trick to get you into this place, to bridge over to the other tracks that you might not be engaged with.”

What are The Bridge's seven tracks?

The team aim to connect people through seven specialised offerings: Move, Pause, Taste, Choose, Seek, Expand and Learn.

Each track focuses on a different element of wellness and the idea is that if you connect them all, a person can become more balanced.

Move focuses on physical fitness and the active spaces in The Bridge, such as the gym and group exercise classes. It also includes the latest Technogym equipment and a semi-Olympic 200-metre indoor running track that offers stunning views on to the canal at Al Qana.

Pause is about recovery and restoration with a focus on yoga, meditation and breathwork. It includes relaxation spaces and therapy rooms. There are also hydro-oxygen airpods, Cryo treatments, infrared saunas and a fully fledged spa for men and women.

“You need to know how to deal with attacks from the stressful world," Nahhas explains. "We have a beautiful programme to deal with that. Starting from breathwork, from meditation, from yoga classes – it’s a huge offering of a variety of yoga classes – to Pilates where we challenge you a little bit more."

Taste encompasses a culinary arts restaurant that offers 100 per cent organic meals, a cold-pressed juice "anti-bar" and a rooftop garden restaurant and lounge. Nahhas says the menu will eventually have 120 food items, including “many favourites that you will always crave”. No junk, though, he stresses.

Choose is a lifestyle design-driven concept that offers clean products. “Choose comes from our wish for people to be able to start choosing the products wisely. So choose clean, choose sustainable,” he says. This not only spans vitamins and supplements, but body care and athleisurewear, as well as lifestyle accessories such as blankets, candles and yoga mats. The goal is to help achieve a holistic lifestyle with a continuous reminder of the value of minimalism.

Then there’s Seek; to seek nature, which Nahhas calls “a powerful healer”. He wants people to get back in touch with our surroundings through field trips and daily experiences such a meditation on the roof during sunset. “We've abandoned nature, we’ve become much more urban in that sense, and I think now it's time to rebalance if you want to be really well."

Expand aims to serve as a place to socialise for like-minded individuals through art, music, film, books and events. “This is where we aim to expand the beauty of the moment that we live in. The most powerful agent for that is culture. Culture for us is music, cinema and film, digital art, art, photography, the social event itself, the human connection and the community,” says Nahhas.

He says the programme will include events such as cinema nights, DJ nights and art exhibitions. “Expand for us is the glue between all the tracks. So when you come into The Bridge, you wonder is this a gym? Is it an art gallery? Is that a cinema? It's all the above, we call it 'the weave',” he says.

Finally, there's Learn, where members can develop a variety of transformational lifestyle, fitness and health-orientated skills. As part of this, The Bridge will host talks, share articles and screen documentaries. “The aim is to help people really transform with conviction through conviction. So once you reach that point, you can't return. Once you know you might be feeding your kids something poisonous or your own body something poisonous, and, you know, you're convinced and you reverse that, then you've changed for good. That’s our hope for everybody.”

Years in the making

The Bridge was inspired by Nahhas's own experience in dealing with sickness and what he describes as “the concept of lifestyle as medicine”, an idea he came across in Switzerland.

Even though he’s an architect, he also has experience in the food industry, and owned a gym in Jordan in 2008 that he eventually sold. For him, the real challenge was how he could do it again – but better.

“I challenged myself further to see how I can put something together that is a lot more holistic. I mean, the word ‘holistically’ is thrown here and globally everywhere. But we really took it to heart,” he says. “I want to honour the word ‘bridge’, when you bridge into lifestyle, I really want to honour it.”

However, he also makes it known that his partner, Moataz Mashal, has been just as instrumental in helping The Bridge to come together. Mashal and his father, Faoud, are also the ones behind Al Qana megaproject. Nahhas and Mashal met in 2015 at a roadshow when Nahhas was trying to find an investor.

He says that Abu Dhabi was chosen specifically because of the support from the government. With a high percentage of the UAE population struggling with obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, Nahhas says he knew the government would be very serious about addressing it through solutions such as The Bridge.

“We knew by coming here, we will be taken seriously. We knew we will be supported. And also, more importantly, we know that we are needed here. And if you’re needed, you know you're going to prevail.”

Updated: November 25th 2021, 12:54 PM