ThePlace: Habala village, the sanctuary of flowers

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Updated 17 November 2018
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ThePlace: Habala village, the sanctuary of flowers

  • The valley is dotted with small huts that were once the villagers’ homes

Can abandoned places, with empty echoes of what were once people’s homes, be beautiful? The answer, at least in the case of the mountain village of Habala in Saudi Arabia, is a resounding yes. The haunting sense of history there adds to the sheer natural beauty of the place.
Habala is located at a one-hour drive from Abha. The village was established during the Ottoman Empire when the locals tried to flee the Turks.
With its mountain views and lush green vegetation, Habala is breathtakingly beautiful. The main village is located in a valley about 300 yards below the summit of the mountain that overlooks it, which rises 1.23 miles above sea level. At one time the village was only accessible by rope ladder, which is why its name is derived from “habal,” the Arabic word for rope. Nowadays it is a lot easier to reach, thanks to cable cars that carry visitors up to the valley.
The former residents of the village were known as the “flower men” because of their custom of wearing garlands of dried flowers and herbs in their hair, and modern-day visitors to Habala are greeted by men in the traditional dress of the villagers, including the flowers. Tourists can even buy floral crowns as souvenirs.
The valley is dotted with small huts that were once the villagers’ homes. In these huts you can sit and enjoy a cup of Qahwa — Arabic coffee — while enjoying the spectacular view. In winter, when fog often envelops the mountain, the village looks as though it is floating on a cloud. It is a sight not to be missed.


Islamic, European officials plan support for Sudan

Updated 19 July 2019
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Islamic, European officials plan support for Sudan

JEDDAH: Support for Sudan in the wake of a new deal on civilian rule was among items discussed during a meeting between leading Islamic and European officials in Saudi Arabia.
The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, received Finnish foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, in Jeddah. Finland currently holds the rotational presidency of the Council of the EU.
Al-Othaimeen and Haavisto had a constructive exchange of views on common issues with particular focus on Sudan after civilian and military leaders signed an agreement aimed at installing a civilian administration.
The deal came after three months of deadlock since Omar Bashir was deposed as president, and the two officials discussed ways to back Khartoum in its transitional phase.
The secretary-general commended the role of Finland and the EU in promoting peace, security, stability and development in different parts of the world and expressed the OIC’s readiness to engage in issues of mutual interest.
Haavisto praised the role of the OIC in promoting the culture of peace, dialogue and understanding, noting the organization’s vast experience in leading peace building initiatives among its member states in collaboration with other partners.