Saudi Arabia’s city of roses welcomes visitors

Saudi Arabia’s city of roses welcomes visitors
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Taif’s pink roses have a sweet, strong aroma and it is rich in soft petals. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Saudi Arabia’s city of roses welcomes visitors
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A worker at the Bin Salman farm tosses freshly picked Damascena (Damask) roses in the air, used to produce rose water and oil, in the western Saudi city of Taif, on April 11, 2021. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia’s city of roses welcomes visitors
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A worker at the Bin Salman farm sits amidst freshly picked Damascena (Damask) roses in the air, used to produce rose water and oil, in the western Saudi city of Taif, on April 11, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 17 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s city of roses welcomes visitors

Saudi Arabia’s city of roses welcomes visitors
  • I am very happy to be working as a tour guide as I am a nature and environment enthusiast and I feel very accomplished when I am entertaining the tourists. Awad Al-Talhi

TAIF: Every year in March and April, people flock to Taif city to enjoy the fragrance of its pink roses and the captivating landscape of the Rose Festival.
The festival takes visitors to the authentic rose gardens and fruit orchards, where they can explore the stages of flower development from picking, cooking, distillation, and finally turning them into products.
It is an annual highlight for Taif farmers as they are given the chance to introduce the aesthetic identity of the city’s nature.
“I am very happy to be working as a tour guide as I am a nature and environment enthusiast and I feel very accomplished when I am entertaining the tourists,” Awad Al-Talhi, a tour guide in Abdullah Al-Talhi’s farm that was established in 2008, told Arab News.
He added: “Taif has a diverse type of topography where you can see a beautiful landscape. It boasts a range of fantastic places and mountains to discover like you would not expect in Saudi Arabia.”
Al-Talhi’s farm is soon to be certified as fully organic, he said, as they do not use any chemicals when it comes to pesticides and fertilization.
“Beside flowers, we also have 19 types of fruits including apricots, peaches, pomegranate, figs, plums, and prickly pears.”
The farm oversees a captivating landscape from the top, which visitors can enjoy as they ascend the turret, offering them a full view overlooking other farms.
The area surrounding the farm is carpeted with 11,000 saplings of pink roses in every direction as far as the eye can see, as well as the mountains and rock formations of Al-Shafa — the highest mountain in the region.
The farm is located on a mountain peak, with a cozy wooden rest house nearby for visitors to the farm.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The festival takes visitors to the authentic rose gardens and fruit orchards, where they can explore the stages of flower development from picking, cooking, distillation, and finally turning them into products.

• Rose water is the prized product among the many bounties extracted from Taif roses. It has been used for centuries, especially in the Middle East, as its components are known for making the skin smooth and soft.

Rose water is the prized product among the many bounties extracted from Taif roses. It has been used for centuries, especially in the Middle East, as its components are known for making the skin smooth and soft.
Taif’s pink roses have a sweet, strong aroma and it is rich in soft petals. It was historically known as the “Damascus Flower” after it was brought to the Hijaz region over 500 years ago.
The roses are also luxury ingredients for many international perfume brands. During the tour in the farm, visitors will have the chance to have their faces splashed with rose mist to experience the fresh essence of the scented rose water.
Taif resident Abdulaziz Al-Malky, who was part of the tour, told Arab News: “I am really surprised with the amazing view here, flowers and fruit blossoms are everywhere. I have been living in Taif my whole life and I have not been fascinated this much before.”
City visitor Salsabela Alrehaily told Arab News that it was her debut visit to a rose farm. “I went to Alshyookh farm and rose factory, which has a store and a nice seating area as well as a penthouse cafe. Every corner of that place smells amazing,” she said, adding that the workers were friendly and welcoming.
“Going to Taif for hiking is amazing. My friends and I had a lovely walk near the lake of Ward Al-Shafa farm and we have collected some wildflowers like lavender, common sage, and other colorful flowers to dry as souvenirs,” she said. “It was very peaceful and not crowded.”
Alrehaily said one of the most thrilling activities was the rose shower: “They poured a bucket of flowers over our heads, which was fun. It looks great in pictures but I underestimated how heavy roses can be.”
Al-Talhi’s farm has a rose water factory in a large stone cottage, where visitors can explore the process of cooking and evaporating a vast number of roses until they produce an aromatic oil or water.


Saudi Arabia participates in global education summit

Saudi Arabia participates in global education summit
Updated 17 min 56 sec ago

Saudi Arabia participates in global education summit

Saudi Arabia participates in global education summit
  • Summit aims to draw a roadmap to transform educational systems in targeted countries
  • Saudi education minister is representing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

RIYADH: On behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh is participating in the Global Education Summit on Financing the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-2025 in London.

The two-day summit opened on July 28 under the patronage of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Al-Asheikh will deliver Saudi Arabia’s speech on behalf of the crown prince on Thursday during the summit, which is being attended by 12 heads of state, 60 education ministers, representatives of the private sector, influencers and youths.

The agenda of the summit includes calls for the international community to finance the strategic plan of the GPE and raise $5 billion over the next five years. It aims to draw a roadmap to transform educational systems in targeted countries through exchanging the best practices, studying the latest systems, and listening to experts and young people from around the world, in addition to benefiting from the expertise of stakeholders.

On the first day of the summit, Al-Asheikh met the British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly at his office in London.

HIGHLIGHTS

The agenda of the summit includes calls for the international community to finance the strategic plan of the GPE and raise $5 billion over the next five years.

It aims to draw a roadmap to transform educational systems in targeted countries through exchanging the best practices, studying the latest systems, and listening to experts and young people from around the world, in addition to benefiting from the expertise of stakeholders.

The meeting discussed bilateral relations between the two countries, reviewed the Kingdom’s efforts to support education through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), and Saudi Arabia’s participation in the summit, emphasizing its role in supporting education around the world.

Al-Asheikh also met the chair of the board of directors of the GPE, Julia Gillard.

During the meeting, they discussed areas of joint cooperation, intensified efforts to contribute to the development of education at the international level and topics of discussion at the Summit.

They also discussed strengthening the relationship of GPE with the SFD, citing the projects carried out by fund in the education sector in various countries of the world, and praising the Saudi role in supporting the education programs in addition to cooperation between GPE and KSrelief in the education sector.

The Saudi minister also held a meeting with the Kuwaiti minister of education, Dr. Ali Fahad Al-Mudhaf. The two sides reviewed cooperation between the two nations.


The history of Saudi Arabia is written in its rock art

The history of Saudi Arabia is written in its rock art
Updated 52 min 44 sec ago

The history of Saudi Arabia is written in its rock art

The history of Saudi Arabia is written in its rock art
  • The paintings refer to the practice of hunting and grazing by the people of the region

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia has a rich heritage depicted in the rock art sites scattered across the country. These show representations of religious, political and socioeconomic life since ancient times.

The engravings, some of which date back to 12,000 B.C., include many images of animals that were used by man for their milk, meat, skins and fur.

Dr. Salma Housawi, professor of ancient history at King Saud University, said that the rock art shows that the inhabitants of the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula began to hunt and domesticate animals in around 6,000 B.C.

“The dog was one of the first animals to be domesticated and used for hunting. Donkeys and bulls depicted in the drawings are also domesticated then,” she added.

Housawi noted that the rock paintings scattered in the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula, which date from 4000 to 2000 B.C., refer to the practice of hunting and grazing by the people of the region. 

When the climate of Saudi Arabia became extremely hot and arid, cattle gradually disappeared and were replaced by animals that are more suited to the dry environment, such as camels, ibex and goats, particularly in the northern and western regions.

The professor said that camels were first depicted on the rocks of Kilwa northeast of Tabuk.

She said the camel was used for transportation due to its endurance and ability to sustain harsh desert conditions of the Arabian Peninsula, making it one of the most important animal resources.

“The camel is a food source and a means of transport that has played a major role in Arab relations with their neighbors, in addition to its participation in the wars.” 

She noted that in the area of Jabal Al-Malihiya, 40 kilometers east of Hail, its rock facades have important inscriptions and drawings depicting cows, wild camels, ostriches and lions. She said that Saudi Arabia was keen to register the Hail rock paintings on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of these animal drawings.

“The Qassim area also abounds with animal drawings of ostriches, lions, lionesses, cows and camels, while in the Uyun Al-Jawa you can find drawings of predators, ibex, ostriches and camels,” she said. “Mount Tamiya in Uglat Asugour region also features drawings of camels and ibexes.” The rock art of the Al-Bukayriyah area features a fascinating drawing of a lion and lioness next to each other.

The rock art of the central region of the Dawadmi province, which shows a similar range of animals, includes aurochs, as well.

She also noted that rock drawings were also interesting for their hunting scenes, which illustrated accurately both the movement of the hunter and animal and the weapons used in hunting.

“The Ministry of Culture, represented by the Saudi Heritage Authority, is making a great effort to preserve and document archaeological and historical areas in the Kingdom, in cooperation with various foreign missions in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” Housawi said.


Summer in Saudi Arabia: Baha attracts camping, hiking lovers and more

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Baha attracts camping, hiking lovers and more
Updated 29 July 2021

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Baha attracts camping, hiking lovers and more

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Baha attracts camping, hiking lovers and more
  • Among the forests scattered in Baha lies the Raghadan Forest Park, which attracts tourists to camp among the tall dark green juniper and acacia trees

BAHA: In Saudi Arabia’s southern region, the clouds embrace the peaks of the high mountains in Baha to create an artistic painting that attracts visitors from around the globe. 

Dubbed the “City of Fog” and the “Neighbor of the Clouds,” the city features forests with picturesque nature scenes that will charm any camping lover.

In the mountains, hikers can summit peaks of high altitude, and for the intellectuals, a date with heritage and ancient history in the museums and majestic forts awaits.

The various terrains between valleys, mountains, and forests offer summer temperatures that do not exceed 32 degrees Celsius. In the evening, the temperature falls to 17 degrees, which makes for an outstanding summer atmosphere for tourists coming from high-temperature areas.

Among the forests scattered in Baha lies the Raghadan Forest Park, which attracts tourists to camp among the tall dark green juniper and acacia trees. This forest overlooks the King Fahd Mountain Road that connects Baha with the Tihama area. Tourists can enjoy watching the clouds rise from Tihama to the mountain tops in the Sarat area in the early hours of the morning. In the afternoon, clouds often laden with water particles fall somewhere in Baha.

Visitors to the farms in the region can pick apples, pomegranates, apricots, and other fruits and eat them on site. Plants and natural crops are irrigated by rainwater or from nearby rain reservoirs.

Forest and farm visitors should not miss tasting locally produced honey from the trees and watching the process of filtering and extracting the honey from the scattered beehives in the summer. Visitors can buy the natural honey, which is free from preservatives, and take it home with them as a souvenir.

However, the fun does not stop here. Baha has prepared safe paths for hikers to ascend the mountains, and when they reach the summit, paragliding through the skies of Baha is also available.

The sun meets vertically with the roofs of the historical castles and forts in the region, leaving history lovers with the opportunity to discover landmarks and monuments immortalized by the ancient inhabitants of the region.

All of these unique features qualified Baha to be among the 11 tourist destinations announced by the Saudi Tourism Authority through the “Visit Saudi Arabia” platform. The authority launched the Saudi Summer Program 2021 under the slogan “Our Summer, Your Mood,” from June 24 until the end of September.


Who’s Who: Randah Al-Hothali, a director general at the Saudi Fund for Development

Who’s Who: Randah Al-Hothali, a director general at the Saudi Fund for Development
Updated 29 July 2021

Who’s Who: Randah Al-Hothali, a director general at the Saudi Fund for Development

Who’s Who: Randah Al-Hothali, a director general at the Saudi Fund for Development

Randah Al-Hothali was recently appointed director general of the corporate communications department at the Saudi Fund for Development.

Al-Hothali previously worked with the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY). During her tenure at SDRPY, she worked as head of outreach in the media and strategic communications directorate and was general director of the same department. She served as the official SDRPY spokesperson and its representative at local and international events. Al-Hothali also managed the partnerships and international cooperation department at SDRPY.

In 2019, she became a member of the World Federation of UN Friends.

In July 2018, Al-Hothali worked at the Decision Support Center of the Royal Court in Riyadh as a senior think tank specialist researcher and analyst.

Between 2013 and 2018, she worked at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. as an economic and international trade adviser.

In 2013, Al-Hothali also worked at a computer software company called Avalara, Inc. in Falls Church, Virginia in the US as an e-file processor for businesses around the US.

She obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from George Mason University, US. She later received a master’s degree in international commerce and policy from the same university.

In 2015, Al-Hothali went to the University of Oxford, UK, to attend the EU and the Challenge of Globalization program.

She worked as an intern at two banking bodies, including the World Bank in Washington, D.C., in 2010, and the National Commercial Bank in Jeddah in 2007.

Al-Hothali has received various certifications from institutions including UNICEF, Union of OIC News Agencies, the US State Department, UNHCR, JFC Humanitarian Operations and the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies.


Arab coalition intercepts drone launched by Houthis toward Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition intercepts drone launched by Houthis toward Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 July 2021

Arab coalition intercepts drone launched by Houthis toward Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition intercepts drone launched by Houthis toward Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Wednesday that Saudi air defenses intercepted a drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward Saudi Arabia.
The coalition said the Iran-backed Houthis continue attempts to deliberately target civilians and civilian objects in the Kingdom.
On Tuesday, the coalition said it intercepted and destroyed four ballistic missiles and two explosive-laded drones launched by the Houthi militia toward the Kingdom’s southern Jazan region.