When in 2000, as a measure against desertification, agricultural cultivation around the village of Sheikh Hilal was banned, its population urgently required a new income source. The village’s distinctive dome-shaped mud houses - qobahs - provided the solution. Built by farmers in the 1920s on Byzantine foundations, twelve have been restored, and six bathrooms added, to make them suitable for families to host tourists. Their thick walls and small windows keep them cool in summer and warm in winter. The project was carried out by local people with local materials - mud, straw, untreated wood and limewash. Plans for a social and training centre have been suspended due to Syria’s political situation.