Reliving the days gone by
July 11 2016 09:41 PM
CARVED FROM STONE: This one piece of stone for the reception weighs 3.5 tons and was rolled on pipes into its place. Photos Umer Nangiana Right: Sami Yousef, General Manager of Ard Canaan, says it is much more than just a restaurant as it represents the culture of the region.

It comes from the culture established as early as in the second millennium BC (Before Christ). Erected ground up in the archaic tradition of stone and marble with a glass and light interplay superimposed on the interiors, this edifice will take you back in time the moment you step in.
Ard Canaan, a new Arabic-cuisine restaurant opened in Katara Cultural Village, literally comes from the ‘Land of Canaan.’ A Semitic-speaking region in the Ancient Near East, Canaan is usually referred to the areas that included what today are Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, northwestern Jordan, and some western areas of Syria.
Canaanite culture apparently pioneered the Mediterranean agricultural system typical of the Canaanite region, which comprised intensive subsistence horticulture, extensive grain growing, commercial olive cultivation and transhumance pastoralism, the raising of livestock.
You will get a glimpse of how life would have looked like in those times in Ard Canaan. Carefully crafted with a particular focus on detail, this place in the heart of the cultural village is more than just a restaurant. It is a gallery with a window opening into past.
The creators have spent a lot of time and effort studying how they want the concept to be. They are very keen on producing something very unique and add something that is not available here. Katara Cultural Village, which provided this space to Ard Canaan, has also been very involved in the details of the design and menu.
“The name was chosen carefully to represent the cuisine and culture of the Land of Canaan, neglecting the borders that came later to this part of the world,” Sami Yousef, General Manager of Ard Canaan, tells Community.
“Our logo is very symbolic. It is an Olive tree with seven leaves and it was inspired by Palestinian coins from 1927 to 1947. It is the only currency that mentions the name Palestine on it in three languages, Arabic, English and Hebrew,” he adds.
The interior is very unique. Every corner was studied and researched well to reflect elements from daily life and the popular monuments, mosques and areas in Palestine. As you step in, you see a lot of stone, which is very common in this part of the world.
Most of the houses there are built with stone, unlike the Gulf where they are built with concrete. The cross-walled arches is a very ancient technique for building, which was used all over the world after having started with the Romans, and they are very common in Palestinian and Jordanian homes built in early 18th to 20th centuries.
They follow simple techniques and have been passed from one generation to the other.
“The stones used in the floor and some parts of the walls, the pillars and the heads of the pillars are imported from Palestine and Jordan. The tiles are specifically imported from Hebron in Palestine. It is a very famous city very well known for this art,” says Yousef.
It was very difficult, he says, to procure them. The procurement team had to visit the areas multiple times and choose the best suppliers. The designs are Roman and are all hand-made in Jordan. 
The tops of pillars in arches are very similar to the arches in the area surrounding Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Creating a harmony between different elements representing different areas to provide the unique feel of an ancient place from back in time, Yousef says, was the major challenge for them.
“You can see some arches in the background with some Arabic calligraphy and those added very nice touch to the place due to their design and colour,” says the GM. “They are very symbolic because in the centre of each one of these arches, you will find the name of a Palestinian city and around it are the names of villages around that city,” he explains.
They have a plan, he says, to change those every six months to include others cities so that visitors can spot their villages and cities. These designs incorporate the interplay of glass and light, he says. 
The chandeliers were imported from United Arab Emirates, but the manufacturers are Palestinians. It is the same company that manufactured the main chandelier in Al Aqsa Mosque.
Since all the interior was made out of stone, Yousef says, they wanted to add a different element to it to make it more elegant.
“We sourced a number of antique pieces which were used in the daily lives of the people of the region. You would see the brass coffee pots that were used by the Bedouins in the region. You would also see the big bean container in which they used to make foul,” says the GM.
Then there are hay-baskets. The vision is to introduce the culture of the people of the Canaan region along with the food and cuisine.
They are also planning many activities with poets and writers, antique and ethnographic collectors of the region. They will invite them to the restaurant and hold some activities around their work.
“We are also planning to have a live cooking activity for our visitors. People would get to see how Kunafa is made, how the bread is made on the steel stove,” he says. The restaurant, Yousef says, has a medium-sized menu which does not represent all of the cuisine from the region.
They are starting with the main items and will add to it gradually, says Yousef. The menu has all the traditional regional elements done in the most traditional way.
As you enter the restaurant, the first thing that catches your eye is the giant stone for the reception. It was carved from one side to become the reception but was left raw from the other side. It weighs 3.5 tons. They transported it to the restaurant using the ancient technique of rolling it on pipes.
The ceiling of the reception area and lobby that leads to the dining hall is wooden with different elevation with designs inspired from Al Aqsa mosque, made in Egypt but painted in house by one of the chefs. There is also a retail shop with food items sourced from the region. The place is just splendid.

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