Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Hala Qaqish opens her home in As-Salt to visitors

USAID BEST is supporting the Salt Development Corporation (SDC) in adding more experiences in As-Salt and encouraging longer stays by visitors to As-Salt. As part of those efforts, the SDC is supporting the development of home visits, which host guests to the city and shares with them the history and stories of As-Salt’s families and neighborhoods.

Hala Qaqish, a resident of the city, is one host inviting guests and visitors to come to her family home and experience the traditional Salti lifestyle. Hala’s home sits on As-Salt’s Harmony Trail, a two-hour walking trail that stops before many of the city’s historical buildings, including the Al-Khader Orthodox Church and the English Complex. The trail also passes through the Al-Hammam Street, a pedestrian walking area home to many of As-Salt’s cultural products.

“My father’s family built the house a hundred years ago, when he was only five years old. The family came together to build it, a beautiful three-floor home with a large garden,” said Hala Qaqish, who now lives in the house.

Working closely with Hala, BEST and SDC helped her to prepare her home for entertaining guests. As a result of BEST and SDC support, Hala was able to better determine what her hosting activities would include. Subsequently, BEST and SDC were also able to support her in carrying out upgrades of her premises for the activities.

Hala is a former army nurse, having graduated from Princess Muna’s Military College to serve in the armed forces. A servicewoman for 18 years, she later transitioned to the private sector and continued her career with hospitals and schools. Energetic, Hala is fond of working with her hands and crafting items by recycling materials.  

“Our neighborhood is very close-knit between families. During Ramadan everyone cooks and sends food to one another, and when the children are off to school we visit one another and do the chores together. It’s very much a community here, built on people who have lived next door to each other for decades.” 

Guests are welcomed for coffee or tea by Hala and her helpers, who then tells them about her family history and that of the neighborhood. Guests will be invited to the garden and pick herbs, before learning from Hala as how to prepare and bake pastries and other dishes. During the meal, guests will learn more about the neighborhood’s local culture and history, with some neighbors popping in to share their own stories. Guests will also be able to take home local staples of As-Salt, such as zaatar, Summaq, jams and pickled goods, all produced from the As-Salt Brand shop.

Bookings for the experience are currently being handled by the Salt Development Corporation.