The Little Oasis in Dahab

VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES IN DAHAB
Last March, I spotted two calls for volunteers in Dahab. The first was a three days building with mud workshop. The second was help needed in a permaculture garden. For his primary school’s graduation project, Nadim had to research about wasted resources (le gaspillage), with focus on water (le gaspillage de l’eau). Spring holidays was approaching, I considered this an opportunity for me to explore Dahab and meet people, and for Nadim to learn by living, observing and experimenting. (…)

MID-APRIL SPRING BREAK
We moved from Giza a little bit late around 4 pm and reached Dahab at dawn, with several stops in the road. It’s a one lane two ways road. The headlights heart my eyes and driving was a bit stressful, I suffered from migraine. I did not succeed to check - in a hotel at that time, so we slept in the car. We were not far from the main attraction area. I was able to buy medicine and we had breakfast by the sea. An hour later we reached our destination at La Petite Oasis.

LA PETITE OASIS

Entrance door

Pool
Water is pumped from the well into the pool and then used for watering the garden. One major reason for having the pool is because the well water is quite salty and if used constantly on the garden it would kill the plants.

The aquatic plants, fish, frogs and other creatures clean the salt out of the water, preparing it for plant watering.

Huts
There are four wooden huts covered in clay from the inside to stop the air and keep the weather cool all the time.

Garden

Toilet
The toilet uses the natural processes of decomposition and evaporation to recycle human waste. After composting the recycled human waste is used as a fertilizer.

The kitchen

Produce from the garden is sold at the Friday Dahab Market where organic produce is much in demand

FRIDAY MARKET
There is a weekly Friday Market, in Dahab at the Eel Garden, where the people mainly sell food crafts. Preparations for the market start on Tuesday. The farm vegetables and fruits are freshly collected on Friday morning.

The preparation activities are mainly:

  • Cleaning and sanitizing jars and bottles.

  • Bottling the Kombucha, adding orange slices and leaving it outside the fridge to ferment.

  • Preparing the new batch of Kombucha.

  • Collecting and washing basil, picking the leaves and preparing the pesto sauce (plain or with turkey cheese).

  • Processing the peanut butter & tahini, adding ingredients to the hummus and pouring everything into jars.

  • Collecting vegetables, and salad and putting them in bags.

AT THE EEL GARDEN

Little Oasis’ spot

Kazakh dish

Cakes

THE BLUE HOLE
There is a virgin beach at a walking distance from the Little Oasis. Saturday was our day off, so we went snorkeling at the blue hole, 7 km away at the north of Dahab.

JAY COUSINS & ZEINAB

Nadim participated in one of Zeinab’s magical story telling sessions. We tried her delicious 100% natural ice cream and ginger beer. The weather was nice at their house garden by the sea.

The most important thing we learned in this trip was:

“experiments in general are an effective way of learning and teaching yourself. you can learn from books (…) physical literacy is how you develop skills with your hands, you only really acquire that through experimentation and building stuff with your hand, testing stuff seeing what works (…) each things that goes wrong teaches me and each things that goes right inspires me to develop an idea that I can commercialize (…)”

“I communicate failure so other people learn from the failure as well, because that’s important. If something is going wrong, it is important to analyze where it went wrong and look at each point of failure and on how to remove each question from from the system (…).”

We interviewed Jay for the school’s project about his irrigation system


and how to save water in dry areas such as Dahab. This encounter changed our perceptions of failure and since we returned back we have been experimenting, analyzing and trying again.

THE OWNER OF THE LITTLE OASIS

The French owner of the Little Oasis, passed away last summer at the age of 42 leaving behind 3 boys from two fathers, who all lived in Dahab at the time I was there. One of them is the owner of the next door hotel. A garden keeper runs the farm. All the animals and birds either died, been sold or given to the Bedouins. The goats and ducks were gone during our stay. There were only chicken remaining.

I found this movie of the animals who once lived in the place on youtube

The energy and spirit of the late owner is still in there though…

I thought we can consider La Petite Oasis as a possible co-working / co-living space in Dahab, Egypt. Due to the limited space, it has to operate differently. People working on similar projects relevant to what we will agree we want to achieve to be present at the same time in waves.

  • Explorers
  • Architects / urban planers / hackers
  • Artists / musicians / environmentalists / anthropologists / work with children
  • horticulture specialists / bartering programs (Dahab is an ideal place to test different alternative economy tools) / business development (work with Bedouins on the production and sales of goat cheese and medicinal herbs / trips a limited number of school children to volunteer and learn by doing / weekly dinner cooked at the Little Oasis + live music or movie screening etc)
    etc.

Finally, maybe the owners have other dreams and ideas. I just wanted to share our experience and free the mind for other ideas, experiences and projects.

4 Likes

hey @amiridina that’s great what you are doing with Nadim, I think it is a great learning process and also a nice break from Cairo.

but I didn’t understand who is managing the little oasis now ? is it one of the 3 boys ? or someone else.

and was wondering what are your thoughts on living for long time in Dahab ? and how do you see the interactions between the Bedouin community and the newcomers from Cairo and other countries ?

When she got sick she asked a former intern to run the place on her behalf. Yasser, has just handled the responsibility to someone else. They do not get paid, but from the proceeds of the garden they live and pay all the related expenses. For the rest maybe Jay is in better position to answer your question about living for long time in Dahab and interaction between Bedouins and new comers.
Dahab is far and away from politics. Any troubles will be handled on the spot. Bedouins are nice from my point of view, yet marginalized. They will be suspicious in the beginning yet I do not see why we can’t interact.

1 Like

This couple was playing with Bedouin’s children. When I asked the children who were gone fishing if they would sell me fish, in the beginning their were distant, then they became more friendly. We have to gather other people’s opinion though.

I assume that most of the visitors come there to scuba dive, since it is a pretty famous place for diving. Do they keep themselves apart in their hotels or whatever they stay in and locals and living experimenters can find their way independent of all that? Also, is there decent health care around there? One thing I have learned about health care is you don’t need it…until you do.

Divers do not really have the time to mingle with locals I believe. It seemed to me that they come in groups. You can see them on the corniche as they are going into the sea. There is a hospital in the place and a famous hospital at Sharm El Sheikh where the former president was getting his treatment.

Very interesting.

Is this an observation or a proposal? Do you have a project that could be ran out of Dahab.

1 Like