A Saudi farmer surrounded by a bed of pink roses in Taif, the ultimate summer city in Saudi Arabia. (Image source: Saudi Press Agency)

Taif, Saudi Arabia’s former Summer Capital

Jun 3, 2023

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A Saudi farmer surrounded by a bed of pink roses in Taif, the ultimate summer city in Saudi Arabia. (Image source: Saudi Press Agency)

A Saudi farmer surrounded by a bed of pink roses in Taif, the ultimate summer city in Saudi Arabia. (Image source: Saudi Press Agency)

Located in the western Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia, Taif is known as the “City of Roses.” This nickname stems from its being the home of 700 farms where roses are grown, which are used in the production of rose water and rose oil. In springtime, the city and surrounding bloom with rose bushes stretching from the valley of Wadi Mahram to the towering mountains of Al Shafa. Taif is also famous for its bountiful fruit orchards, where grapes, berries, pomegranates, and figs can be grown because of the region’s fertile soil and favourable climate throughout the year. The products are valued because of their freshness and taste, and people from all over the country eagerly await them all year round.

Situated on an elevation of 1,879 meters on the slopes of the Hijaz Mountains, which are part of the Sarawat Mountains, Taif offers a refreshing escape from the desert heat and sea humidity. Its favourable location makes it a preferred destination for short weekend getaways or a reprieve from the summer heat for locals who are not travelling abroad. While residents of Makkah, which is about 90 km are the main beneficiaries due to proximity, people from Jeddah, Madinah and Riyadh also like to visit Taif. It’s cool weather, picturesque landscapes, and historical sites have always given Saudis a sense of having travelled “abroad.” Moreover, the welcoming nature of the local people adds to the tourist experience.

Before airconditioning became widely available in the Kingdom, the government moved to Taif for the summer to enjoy the cooler weather. This gave the city the title as the country’s Summer capital, but the tradition was discontinued in the 1980s, when airconditioning made comfortable living in Riyadh possible all year round.

The region is also home to the oldest souq, known as Souq Okaz, which has lent its name to one of the largest daily Saudi newspapers. Taif hosts the annual Souk Okaz Festival, a cultural experience featuring traditional activities such as poetry recitals, camel races, and handicraft exhibitions.

The city is famous as the location where the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had a historically significant meeting with the leaders of the Quraysh tribe, which led to the conclusion ofthe Treaty of Hudaibiya. This pivotal event in the early Islamic era is commemorated annually through the Souk Okaz festival in Taif. This festival not only showcases traditional activities like poetry recitals, camel races, and handicraft exhibitions but also pays homage to the Treaty of Hudaibiya, which played a crucial role in the early Islamic era.

With the opening of local and international tourism in Saudi Arabia, Taif has seen the implementation of various development projects. Nevertheless, amidst this modernization, Taif’s true charm lies in its captivating landscape, pleasant weather, and significant historical sites. These natural and cultural elements have left a lasting impression on Saudis.

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