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)


Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year

Awareness campaigns highlight the importance of trees. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 February 2020

Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year

  • The fine for cutting down a tree can reach SR5,000 ($1,333) while the fine for transporting logs is SR10,000

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year through destruction and tree logging.
Trees help stop desertification because they are a stabilizer of soil. In the Arabian Peninsula, land threatened by desertification ranges from 70 to 90 percent. A national afforestation campaign was launched in Saudi Arabia last October, and there is a national plan set to run until this April.
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said that although natural vegetation across the country had suffered in the past four decades, modern technologies such as satellites and drones could be used to track down individuals or businesses harming the Kingdom’s vegetation.
“Harsh penalties should be imposed on violators such as the seizure or confiscation of transport and hefty fines,” Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sugair, chairman of the Environmental Green Horizons Society, told Arab News.
These were long-term solutions and they needed coordination with authorities to ensure warehouses and markets did not stock logs or firewood, he said. Another solution was sourcing an alternative product from overseas that was of high quality and at a reasonable price. A third was to provide support to firewood and coal suppliers.
“The general public needs to be more aware of the importance of trees and should have a strong sense of responsibility toward these trees,” Al-Sugair added.
“They should also stop buying firewood in the market. We can also encourage investment in wood production through agricultural holdings as well as implement huge afforestation projects and irrigate them from treated sewage water.”
The fine for cutting down a tree can reach SR5,000 ($1,333) while the fine for transporting logs is SR10,000. These fines could not be implemented as they should be because there were no available staff to monitor and catch violators and, to make matters worse said Al-Sugair, there was a weak level of coordination between authorities.
Most of the Kingdom’s regions have suffered in some way from tree felling, and some places no longer have trees. These violations are rampant in the south and Madinah regions, as well as in Hail and Al-Nafud Desert.
Riyadh is the most active and the largest market for firewood. Many people in Al-Qassim use firewood as do restaurants in some parts of Saudi Arabia.
Omar Al-Nefaee, a microbiology professor at the Ministry of Education in Taif, said the reason behind the widescale destruction of the environment could be attributed to a supply shortage of imported firewood.
“Tree logging causes an environmental disequilibrium,” he told Arab News. “The Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Water has launched an initiative raising public awareness on the issue and is asking people not to use local firewood. Several awareness campaigns have been launched for the same purpose to educate people about the importance of using imported wood instead of the local wood in order to protect the Kingdom’s vegetation.”
Official reports warn that the Kingdom has lost 80 percent of its vegetation and that the drop will have a detrimental effect on its biodiversity, as well as causing great damage to the environment.
The general public should use other heating options during the winter and stop using firewood, Al-Nefaee said.
Some local studies have called for farms that can produce wood from plants that do not consume too much water and do not affect vegetation, while at the same time reducing the pressure on other regions in the Kingdom that are rich in animal resources.
Falih Aljuhani, who runs a business that imports wood from Georgia, encouraged Saudi firms to import wood from the Balkans because it was a competitive market and the trees had low carbon percentages.