Rose Village blooms as Taif offers ‘a global touch of joy’

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Visitors to the village not only learn about the city’s traditional handicrafts, but also take part in the making of local traditional handmade products. (SPA photos)
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Updated 21 August 2019

Rose Village blooms as Taif offers ‘a global touch of joy’

  • Festival of art, crafts and music brings more than 10,000 visitors daily, organizers say

TAIF: Taif Season may have turned the whole city into a magnet for local and regional visitors, but it is the Ward (Rose) Village that is proving to be one of the most popular attractions, bringing an average of 10,000 people to Arrudaf Park every day. According to village spokesman Naif Al-Damouk, people are thirsty for entertainment and a constant flow of visitors arrives every day from 5 p.m. to almost midnight.
“By the end of August, when the total number of those who visited our village is disclosed, I am sure the figures will be surprising. For the time being, we can say that we receive about 10,000 people per day. The exact number will be announced at the end of Taif Season,” Al-Damouk said.
More than 90 percent of visitors said they were satisfied with activities at the village, he added.
Ward Village blends nature with art, offering eye-catching dance performances as well as music and fragrant roses at the summer resort.
Al-Damouk said that some of Europe’s leading entertainment troupes and bands invited to Taif Season are creating “an atmosphere with a global touch of joy for visitors throughout August.”
“Some activities are repeated three times a day to cater for the flow of visitors who come at different times,” he said.
Visitors to Ward Village at Taif’s well-known Arrudaf Park can enjoy a variety of entertainment experiences, with many creative events designed to appeal to family members of all ages. Among the most popular attractions are the “horrible roses.”
“The horrible rose shows offer a fun-filled experience, with multiple rooms, dim lighting, sound effects and characters from horror movies and others dressed in floral costumes. The surprises make visitors’ experiences unforgettable,” Al-Damouk said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Around 10,000 people visit the Ward Village daily.

• Some of Europe’s leading entertainment troupes and bands are enthralling visitors.

• A wide range of entertaining activities is underway.

Other activities include the rose lab, where visitors can learn about the rose oil industry from the moment a rose is picked through distillation, condensation and, finally, bottling.
Visitors to the village not only learn about the city’s traditional handicrafts, but also take part in the making of local traditional handmade products.
In compliance with Saudi Vision 2030, Ward Village is supporting and encouraging participation by skilled and productive families through the Bar’a (Adroit) initiative.
“The initiative has invited craftsmen from around the Kingdom to show their craftsmanship and display their products to visitors. Visitors can also take part in making some products, and then buy them as a wonderful reminder of their beautiful days during the Taif season,” he said.
Over the past several years, attitudes have changed dramatically in Taif, a city that is home mainly to tribal members. People have accepted change and even seem to want more of it, proving that the only barrier to greater openness was the so-called religious police.     
Khaled Al-Zahrani, an educationalist, told Arab News that he “can’t believe that was his city.”
Members of the religious police were strict, especially when it came to sitting close to families, talking to women, or playing music in public, he said.
“I remember when we used to come to this area (Arrudaf) and there were only open spaces for young men to play football, and piles of rocks here and there,” he said.
Al-Zahrani recalled that one of his friends was a good lute player, and some other friends agreed to meet him and enjoy a night playing music at Arrudaf.
“While our friend was cautiously tuning his instrument, we were listening and looking around in fear that a religious police patrol would pass us. Some police were lenient, but others were hardhearted. They could take us to their centers and treat us as if we were worthless persons simply for playing music in public,” he said.
Now people are free to attend activities and enjoy music events at the park, Al-Zahrani said. “We are back to normal,” he said.

Visitors flock to the Ward Village (Rose Village)


Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

Updated 56 min 31 sec ago

Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

  • US official says all options, including a military response, are on the table
  • Washington blames Iran for the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field

RIYADH: Iran provided the weapons used to strike two Saudi Aramco facilities in the Kingdom, the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen said Tuesday.

“The investigation is continuing and all indications are that weapons used in both attacks came from Iran,” coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki told reporters in Riyadh, adding they were now probing “from where they were fired.”

The coalition supports the Yemen government in the war against the Iran-backed Houthi militants, which claimed they had carried out the attack on Saturday.

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US officials have said Iran was behind the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field, and that the raid did not come from Yemen, but from the other direction.

“This strike didn't come from Yemen territory as the Houthi militia are pretending,” Maliki said, adding that an investigation was ongoing into the attacks and their origins.

The Houthis have carried out scores of attacks against Saudi Arabia using drones and ballistic missiles.

Al-Maliki labelled the Houthis “a tool in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the terrorist regime of Iran.”

The attacks against Abqaiq, the world's largest oil processing facility, and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia knocked out nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Crude prices rocketed on Monday by more than 10 percent.

Iran has denied involvement, something Trump questioned Sunday in a tweet saying “we'll see?”

A satellite image of Saudi Aramco infrastructure at Khurais. (US Government/DigitalGlobe/ via Reuters)

On Sunday, the US president raised the possibility of military retaliation after the strikes, saying Washington was “locked and loaded” to respond.

The US has offered a firm response in support of its ally, and is considering increasing its intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia as a result of the attack, Reuters reported.

A US official told AP that all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made.

The US government late Monday produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at the oil processing plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field. Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south.

Iraq said the attacks were not launched from its territory and on Sunday Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him that Washington possesses information that backs up the Iraqi government’s denial.

Condemnation of the attacks continued from both within Saudi Arabia and from around the world.

Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council called Tuesday for concerted efforts to hold those behind the attacks accountable.

Meanwhile, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais had consequences well beyond the region and risked dragging Yemen into a “regional conflagration.”