Traditional Chinese Medicine and Massage in Qatar

Qatar LivingThe popularity of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Massage has spread far and wide from the shores of China. This is true even in the Middle East where products and services from China are not always well accepted or respected.

In the basement of the 5-star Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort in Qatar, along with classy hair and beauty salons, is a small Chinese traditional medicine clinic run by a qualified Chinese Physician. The clinic offers traditional Chinese treatment such as acupuncture, moxibustion, detoxification and cupping.

In addition, the clinic also offer traditional Chinese foot reflexology and Tui-Na massage as part of it’s services. You can tell that this is a very popular massage service in Qatar because despite opening from 10am to 10pm daily(except Friday), you can hardly find a free slot to make an appointment for treatment.

I tried the 1 hour foot massage. Before starting treatment, I was required to fill in a personal particular form and also to indicate if I was suffering from any medical ailment. I was also required to have my blood pressure taken. Despite having Chinese reflexology and massage all over the world, this was the first time I ever had to go through such scrutiny!

In respect of Islamic culture as practiced in the Middle East, the clinic was divided into a male and female section. The massage therapists are all from mainland China and I was told that female therapists may only provide foot and head massage to male clients and body massage will be provided by male therapists for male clients.

The 1 hour foot massage included a foot wash in hot water before the actual foot massage begun. The foot treatment was very typical Chinese foot massage and I had to ask the therapist to increase the strength and intensity of the massage. I was told that most clients here are Caucasian expatriates or local Arabic and their average pain threshold are not too high. Despite that, it was still a very popular service among both expatriates and local Qataris alike and the booking calendar runs over especially over the week-ends.

I was offered Chinese tea after the treatment. Because I speak Chinese, I was surrounded by the therapists after a while because quite a few of them are pretty home-sick and wanted to speak to some-one who was able to converse in Chinese as none of their clients could speak Chinese.

Unfortunately, despite being located in a 5-star hotel, the clinic was not well furnished and feel more like a run-down TCM clinic located in the poorer districts of Chinatown rather than the typically well designed massage boutique you can expect to find in a posh shopping mall or hotel. Hence, I did not want to stay long as it did not have the conducive environment I would like to relax in after a massage treatment.

This despite a whopping 180 Qatari Riyah(@US$50) for a 1-hour foot massage and 200 Qatari Riyah(@US$55) for a 1-hour Tui Na massage. You can pay half that price in Singapore or one quarter that price in mainland China for a similar treatment but in a much more nicer ambiance and greater facilities.

I guess it will be a while before I return.

Location of International Chinese Body Care House:
Sheraton Doha Hotel & Resort
Al Corniche Street, West Bay, Doha, Qatar
Size of Clinic: Small, with separate treatment rooms for male and female clients
Facilities: None. No rest area. No changing area.

Friendliness: Not that helpful if you do not speak Chinese.
Pricing: About US$60 for foot massage. About US$65 for TuiNa massage. Upmarket rates for a non-up-market environment.

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