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.
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.