Taif, Saudi Arabia’s City Of Roses With Over 800 Flower Farms
Every spring, roses bloom in the western Saudi Arabia city of Taif, turning the kingdom’s vast desert landscape into a vivid and fragrant pink.
In April, they are collected to get the essential oil used to cleanse the outer walls of the sacred Kaaba, a building at the center of Islam's most important mosque, the Masjid al-Haram in the holy city of Mecca towards which Muslims around the world pray.
This year, the harvest falls during the holy month of Ramadan, in which Muslims observe fasts and devote themselves to prayer and reflection.
Workers at the Bin Salman farm collect tens of thousands of flowers every day to make rose water and oil, also picked components for the cosmetic and food industries.
The perfumed oil has gain popularity among the millions of Muslims who visit the kingdom every year for pilgrimages.
Patterns of plants and flowers have been part of Islamic art for a long time.
Called the city of roses, Taif has more than 800 flower farms with about 300 million flowers every year, many of which have been allowed to visitors.
While workers pick flowers in the fields, others labor fills and weighs baskets by hand. After that, the flowers are boiled and distilled.
“We start boiling the roses at high temperatures until they are nearly evaporated, and this takes about 30 to 35 minutes,” stated Khalaf al-Tuweiri, who owns the Bin Salman farm.
“We then lower the heat for around 15 to 30 minutes until the distilling process starts, which continues for 8 hours.”
As the oil floats to the top of the glass jars, the extraction process starts.
After that, the oil is extracted with a large syringe to fill different-sized vessels, the smallest costs 400 Saudi riyals ($106).