The waters of the Dead Sea in Jordan have long been said to have anti-ageing and healing properties. Many ancient figures – from Cleopatra to the Queen of Sheba and Aristotle to Solomon – are thought to have taken the waters and thalassotherapy has become a draw to millions of visitors seeking relief.
Now, one hotel in the UAE has brought those therapeutic benefits to our doorstep.
Saray Spa at the J W Marriott Marquis in Dubai is the first in the Emirates to offer a Dead Sea flotation pool, complete with sea salt and minerals from the Dead Sea. Launched in June last year, the aim was “to bring authenticity to the brand’s Middle Eastern experiences such as the hammam treatments”.
Drashell Schmidt, the spa director, says: “Not only is the Dead Sea legendary as a place of rest and healing but it has continued to be a legendary destination for travellers around the world throughout the ages. We felt that adding the treatment pool and creating our own version of Jordan’s healing waters would bring something authentic to our guests.”
The spa’s Dead Sea Journey treatment comprises a scrub using Dead Sea salts, a body mask of the mud and a soak in the pool. Its waters are rich in calcium, magnesium, bromides and potassium, all reputed to assist in healing various ailments of the skin, muscles and joints. The treatment is usually coupled with a full-body massage.
The pool requires a special titanium filtration and pump system and the salt is ordered directly from a laboratory in Jordan that processes raw material sourced from the Dead Sea; it also provides the mud. The salt is shipped in 20kg bags, tons at a time, to be added to the pool until it reaches a concentration that matches that of the Dead Sea.
Many of the spa’s signature products, such as its Dead Sea Mud and Rose Body and Massage Oil, are made with ingredients from the region.
There are many benefits of bathing in such a high concentration of salt and minerals, says Schmidt: “It is designed to bring about relaxation with its warmth and weightlessness. The other is the healing content through the body’s absorption of various minerals.”
However, medical opinion is divided on the benefits of such a treatment that mirrors the conditions of the Dead Sea.
Dr Hassan Galadari, a dermatologist and academic at UAE University, says: “Some research has been made of the mud to see if it has any health benefits, but most of the evidence is anecdotal and has not gained any scientific pull to it. Research has been done in its treatment of osteoarthritis, but it is anecdotal at best.
“There are many scrubs and creams that contain minerals from the Dead Sea but are not proven to cure anything. Like food supplements such as vitamins, they do not cure but may have some cosmetic value.”
Dr Shereen Habib, a general practitioner in Dubai, says: “Dead Sea salts can be beneficial for skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis but only with regular bathing – the benefits may only be felt after a few sessions. It is not a miracle cure, but it might help with symptoms of arthritis as well as improve circulation, although this is a temporary effect.”
• The Saray Signature Dead Sea Journey at the J W Marriott Marquis Dubai costs Dh865 for 115 minutes and Dh995 for 135 minutes. Call 04 414 0001 to book