The Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-SOM in Doha welcomes Sandie Johannessen as its new health and wellness director.


Sandie Johannessen, the resort's newly appointed Health & Wellness Director of Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva Som in Doha, aims to revive the tourism and wellness industry by 2022. Johannessen's holistic approach combines her studies in yoga, meditation, dietetics, and philosophy to create an experience that is both relaxing and energizing.

With two decades of experience in natural wellness, Johannessen revealed how she would bring Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine (TAIM) which aligns perfectly with her specialties.  This would be the first time in Qatar that a contemporary TAIM offering to be introduced by Chiva-Som, a global pioneer in wellness and lifestyle improvements. 

Congratulations on your new role. Could you please share some insights on this position?  

Thank you.

As I lead a team of almost 130 healthcare professionals at Zulal by Chiva-Som in Doha, embracing the fast-evolving medical and holistic crossover market, the initiatives would continually be on a quest to discover the latest forward-thinking techniques.

I am responsible for guiding and assisting the leadership team in translating Chiva Som’s Health and Wellness strategy into actionable programs and activities, driving and leading the commercial/financial performance of the Medical, Aesthetic, Health, and Wellness facilities.

Many of us are not familiar with TAIM. Could you tell us more about it?

TAIM was derived from Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine, the wellness way of ancient Arabia, integrated with modern presentation and adaption.

Many of our concepts and philosophies originate in Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine. These principles include restoring and balancing the foundational elements of health: diet and nutrition, physical therapies and fitness, mental health and rest, optimal digestion and elimination, and nurturing the spirit.

During the consultation, our TAIM specialist will assess your unique constitution from a TAIM perspective and discuss the most appropriate dietary choices, herbs, and therapies, as well as activities that work best to sustain balance for your health and wellbeing.

With your extensive experience in Natural Wellness and TAIM,  how do you see them progressing and faring with other wellness trends?

The historical healing system of TAIM is here to stay but has perhaps been somewhat forgotten in recent times and will be restored to support travelers in their wellness lifestyle in a new but old way. While Zulal looks to the future, we are committed to preserving Qatari culture and legacy through meals, wellness treatments, and goods.

There are more and more luxury players in wellness - what are the defining points of Zulal?

While the interest in staycations and local travel has risen for short-term getaways, people have also changed the approach towards vacationing with the preference towards longer, higher quality trips and new, unusual destinations. Zulal Wellness Resort’s elaborate short- and long-term retreats uniquely meet this new demand, welcoming wellness lovers from Qatar and abroad.

Photo Courtesy of Chiva-Som

At Zulal Wellness Resort, customized retreats are available for a minimum stay of 2-3 nights, allowing guests to learn new habits to improve their health and well-being as a new way of life.

We aim to build a destination that will serve as a short-term treatment and a place offering a truly sustainable lifestyle direction that our guests will follow continuously outside of the resort.

In your opinion, where is the biggest market of wellness tourism, and what can we expect more to come?

Here in GCC, where I am currently based, new hospitals are being built with a vision to replicate the five-star luxury hotel experience for patients, recruiting hoteliers and therapists for their skills.

On the other side of the coin, luxury hotels are increasingly investing in high-grade medical equipment and diagnostics, as well as medical healthcare professionals, to add scientific credibility to their wellbeing offerings.

Whereas previously the two were very separate, it’s now widely accepted that whole-person wellness relies on both the medical and holistic models. The past few years have taught us that health and time are among our most valuable commodities and one we can’t take for granted.

Now, more than ever, we’re looking for ways not only to extend our life expectancy but to ensure those years are healthier than before.



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