Tucked within an expanse of palm tree groves and fields in Dashour lies a secluded and quiet haven aptly named Ardi. Overlooking the Dashour pyramid complex, this earthy rustic retreat was founded by Shereen Malak, a practitioner and ardent believer in alternative holistic wellness and lover of the arts. The intention of creating Ardi was to support the expressive arts, spread joy, and bring people together in an inclusive way by means of hosting workshops and retreats.
“Ardi is an experience, it gives a person what they need. For some people it’s a place to chill, and for others it’s a place that challenges their perceptions, and helps them reassess their lives,” explains Malak.
A range of workshops and creative retreats have been hosted here, from Hatha Yoga with Ali El Alfy to Psychodrama with Ben Rivers. Attendees can tap into their inner artist and hone their skills with writing workshops led by Hoda Anwar or tap into their inner souls with meditation retreats helmed by Karim Tobgy. NGOs like the BuSSy Project, a performing arts project tackling gender discrimination, also visit Ardi for their weekend workshops.
An environmentally friendly venture, each feature of Ardi is chosen to be sustainable in terms of the architecture, running costs, and the food prepared on premises. Not a single palm tree was removed to accommodate building the structure, all the plants are chosen based on their minimal need of water, including the lack of grass, and all the food is prepared on-site using traditional methods, made with organic and seasonal produce. “The element of the earth is your first chakra. Most people feel very grounded in Ardi,” Malak points out.
Boasting different sized rooms for overnight stay, a large and airy sitting room for socializing and quiet time, outdoor dining space for communal meals, and a stunning pool area for relaxation, it is clear that this place is for off-the-grid rest and getting back in touch with nature and those around you. In addition to the main space for workshops and lectures, there a small hut tucked away for prayer and meditation – notably built with mud brick from Ardi’s land.
This project is clearly a cumulative and passionate work of love and community. It developed with the help of Malak’s friends and family, and as a tribute each room is named for a special person in her life. The space is intentionally left bare with minimalistic design and landscaping to allow visitors to connect with its roots and the ground itself, and not imposing any particular taste upon them.
Ardi hosts groups, not individual visitors, for weekend workshops and retreats. Malak accepts ideas and offers from practitioners interested in finding a home for their work through word of mouth or social media. Ideas are welcome, as long as the proposed idea has a clear intention that falls within the ethos of Ardi.
Malak’s wish is that Ardi will facilitate transformation and growth in people’s lives, and serve as a place any visitor can feel connected to and feel a sense of ownership. “That is why I chose the name … So whenever anyone says it, they can feel it is theirs.”