A regular weekend morning ritual for Holly Aldhebaiei involves plucking a bunch of fresh sage leaves from her organic garden of her villa in Dubai’s Oud Al Muteena. After steeping the leaves in a pot of water, Holly, the founder of Holly Holistic, UAE’s first homegrown holistic store, adds generous spoons of mountain honey before pouring out seven cups of sage tea. Sipping the invigorating flavours of the hot brew, Holly, her husband Mohammed Al Dhuhouri and their five children spend time together in their garden.
“You will never see us go to a mall or anywhere close to the city during the weekend; it’s either a trip to the mountains, the beach or pottering around in our garden,” says Holly, who moved to Dubai from USA in 1999.
Firm believers of sustainability, the Emirati family follows a life rooted in nature. In a small patch of land behind their house, shrubs of basil, mint, dill and sage vie for space among squares of tomatoes and cucumbers just as a flock of sparrows find refuge on the moringa and frankincense trees. “As far as possible, we try to eat local and organic. Living sustainably is also an integral part of our daily life. We recycle and reuse several things at home, our goal is to eventually go completely plastic-free. Even my kids consciously practise it so much so that they never step out without their own drinking straws,” she says.
Giving Holly and her family company in her plant-filled home are a band of rescued pets – five dogs, four cats, a parrot, a tortoise, a few water turtles and a coop full of chickens. Each pet has an interesting background story. “One evening I found someone on my doorstep with an African Grey parrot. It had been abandoned by its owners and left alone in the house. Out of stress he had picked out all his feathers and then someone heard his cries and brought him to us.”
One cat was found scared and mewing under a car by her son; he of course rescued it and brought it home. The young boy found another cat loitering around near his school. She too is happy in the Aldhebaiei family.
“People around here now know that we are fond of animals and take in abandoned pets, so our family keeps expanding,” says Holly.
Married to a geologist who grew up in Dibba, Fujairah, Holly’s garden and store – Holly Holistic store – house several stones and crystals that have been locally sourced. A large pink and white crystal stone in her garden was found on a family trip to Musandam and they brought home a large dolomite stone on yet another journey via Ras Al Khaimah. “I have always had a fascination for collecting rocks and stones. Even as a child I would keep adding to my collection at home. This fascination eventually led to my interest in learning about the healing properties of crystals. Being married to an Emirati geologist has also immensely added to my knowledge about local stones,” she reveals.
In a wooden chalet at the entrance of her villa is the Holly Holistic store that retails several healing crystals, salt lamps, candles and eco-friendly products. “The crystals aid in mental and physical well-being. While the milky quartz, for instance, brings more clarity to the mind, the blue lace agate fosters peace and calmness,” she says.
Holly steered towards exploring holistic self-healing techniques after going through a turbulent phase in her life a few years ago. She has studied many modalities of healing including hypnotherapy, crystal healing, mindfulness and emotional freedom technique. “Practising yoga, pranayama and emotional freedom techniques have completely changed my life. I meditate everyday with crystals,” she adds.
Seeing her own personal transformation towards finding inner peace and deeper meaning in life, Holly felt the need to nurture and nourish others and share her passion for holistic health. She feels each one of us can heal ourselves. “Self- healing is not as complicated as everyone thinks. You can learn several techniques to bring in the change and the healing you are seeking. By placing crystals at home or by wearing them, or burning different resins and herbs, you can alter the vibe of your space and your mood,” she says.
Instead of relying on medicines, Holly says she resorts to natural remedies for herself and her family too. She added to her knowledge about local herbs by learning from elders in her husband’s family. “I travelled to the interiors of villages. Conversing with tribal elders, with the help of translators, I discovered several native cures – I found that Luban (Frankincense) has antioxidant and antibacterial properties, and has been burnt for years to kill virus and bacteria at home,” she explains. “Aloe vera has always been used for skin, scalp and hair treatments. Henna is used not only to make tattoos on the body but also for skin conditions and to soothe burns. Pure local honey is antibacterial and can be used to heal wounds. Wild sage can be burned to get rid of negative energy and when consumed as tea it boosts brain and heart health.”
With her heart firmly rooted in her much-loved adopted country of 20 years, Holly hopes to share her holistic knowledge with others emboldening them to live closer to Mother Nature. “My mission is to build a future where humans live in harmony with their own environment,” she says.