Saudi Arabia's City of Roses: Inside the Bin Salman Farm in Taif – in pictures

Guests can watch as farmers extract rose water and oil from the Taif rose at this family-run farm

Saudi Arabia may be known for its sprawling desert scenery, fascinating ancient towns and camel beauty pageants, but perhaps lesser known is its penchant for growing roses.

Taif: the City of Roses

Every spring, the city of Taif, located in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, turns pink and red, as rose bushes blossom in the valley of Wadi Mahram, then Al Hada and the mountainous area of Al Shafa.

The blooms have become a crucial part of Taif's economy identity, so much so that it has been dubbed locally as the City of Roses.

A worker picks Taif roses at the Bin Salman Farm in the Saudi city of Taif on March 13, 2021. The family farm is open to visitors and offers a complete rural experience including the viewing of the time-honoured tradition of extracting rose water and oil from the Taif rose, a prized component in the cosmetic, culinary and other industries. It has become synonymous with the city itself, dubbed locally as the City of Roses. / AFP / Amer HILABI
A worker picks Taif roses at the Bin Salman Farm. AFP

More than 900 rose farms produce more than 300 million flowers every spring, according to Visit Saudi.

The harvest is then taken to factories and distilled into rose oil, or attar, and rose water, which is prolifically used in fragrances across the world from high-end brands, such as Gucci and Chloe.

The Bin Salman farm

One of Taif's attractions is the Bin Salman Farm on Al Hada Road.

The family-run farm is open to visitors and offers a complete rural experience. They even allow guests to watch as they demonstrate the time-honoured tradition of extracting rose water and oil from the Taif rose, a prized component in the cosmetic, culinary and other industries.

Owned by Khalaf bin Salman Al-Tuwairqi, the farm features a cafe, factory and store. It has about 30 sitting areas where visitors can watch the farmers work, as well as try out the local produce.

Take a look through the photos in the gallery above to see more of the Bin Salman Farm.

Salman, a member of the Bin Salman family, throws roses into the air at the family's farm in the Saudi city of Taif on March 13, 2021. The family farm is open to visitors and offers a complete rural experience including the viewing of the time-honoured tradition of extracting rose water and oil from the Taif rose, a prized component in the cosmetic, culinary and other industries. It has become synonymous with the city itself, dubbed locally as the City of Roses. / AFP / Amer HILABI
Salman, a member of the Bin Salman family, throws roses into the air at the family's farm in the Saudi Arabian city of Taif. AFP

Al Gadhi Rose Factory

Another landmark worth visiting is Al Gadhi Rose Factory, which is located just outside the centre of Taif. It is one of the oldest and biggest such factories in the area, and is open to visitors from early March until the end of April, during harvest season.

Here, tourists can see local farmers queue up outside to have their rose petals weighed on antique scales.

In a season, a team of 15 might process close to 100 million rose petals, according to Visit Saudi.

Updated: March 15, 2021 02:10 PM

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