Saudi Arabia is known for its expanse of desert adventures, rock formations, and natural treasures, its uncharted beaches and bustling shores, its long history of falconry and camel riding. But what many may not know is that in the southwest of Saudi Arabia sits a city renowned for a more fragrant reason: Taif, a popular town in the Makkah Governorate, is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, known for its mountains, hills, valleys, and roses. Yes, roses!
The popular Rose Village in Saudi Arabia's #TaifSeason mixes fragrant roses, dance, and culture.— About Her (@AboutHerOFCL) August 20, 2019
Hint: For those looking for an even more experience, check out the "Horrible Roses" show –a maze house where your favourite horror movie characters are dressed in floral costumes. pic.twitter.com/Q71eBYPyIL
Thanks to its favorable climate, Taif is home to nearly a thousand rose farms, with aromatic blossoms stretching from Wadi Mahram to Al-Hada. This is perhaps why the city is no stranger to festivals themed around roses! Every spring, farmers head to the fields to harvest beautiful rose petals, which are then taken to factories for extraction, producing favorites such as rose water and rose oil. It is even said that Taif’s roses were a favorite of King Khalid bin Abdulaziz, who in the 1970s and 80s would buy rose oil for the whole season.
In fact, Saudi Arabia is said to produce some of the world’s most expensive rose oil, which is used to make signature perfumes by brands such as Givenchy, Chanel, and Jimmy Choo. According to Perfumesociety.com, that is because the Taif rose is “beloved for its deep fragrance – which is even more intense than the better-known Damask rose to which it’s related. It also gives hints of tea alongside the soft powderiness.”
From the annual harvests to the farms contributing to its economy, it is no wonder that Taif is nicknamed the “City of Roses” or even "Garden of the Hejaz.” So, if you’re curious about seeing Taif’s roses for yourself, some of the farms and factories are actually open to visitors. Bin Salman Farm, a brainchild of Khalaf Bin Salman Al-Tuwairqi, has around thirty sitting areas that offer a view of the farmers hard at work, and a chance to try out the local produce. Pass by early to enjoy a delicious, typical Arabic breakfast, with locally sourced ingredients. Other places to visit include one of Taif's oldest factories, Al-Gadhi, which also sell directly to visitors, anything from perfumes and soaps to scented tissues.