By Saleh FareedSaudi Gazette
Nature is at its best during spring and so is Taif. The beautiful tucked-away town is home to a plethora of horticulturists and florists. Recently, after a year’s laborious planning and cultivating thousands of flowers, the King Faisal Park in Taif was ready to host its 10-day 9th Flower Festival 2012 for flower lovers.
More than 5,000 visitors from across the Kingdom and other GCC countries flocked to the festival on the first day itself, enjoying the lavish floral display, embankment of bright red roses, and the massive flower carpet.
“It is my favorite time of the year,” Saeed Al-Qahtani, one of the festival supervisors, said as he toured around the giant flower carpet. The 900-square-meter bed of flowers created by the Taif Mayoralty consists of over 100,000 offshoots of 10 different varieties of flowers.
In addition to flower sightseeing, the festival also held activities for children as well as hosted programs related to horticulture, art gallery, photo exhibition and a traditional music program. “Our parks need to be filled with pleasant faces; with this festival we take that experience to a new level of enjoyment,” said Al-Qahtani.
The festival had set up more than 200 stalls that displayed and sold authentic rose oil, rose water and other rose by-products. Taif has perfect conditions for growing roses. Every year, some 2,000 farms around Taif produce over one hundred million roses. “They bloom throughout the month of April. Farmers must pick the new blossoms before sunrise to prevent the roses’ precious oils from evaporating,” said an official. The festival expects a revenue of over SR60 million from its sales, he said.
Masaoud Al Jihani, an owner of a rose farm in Taif who is participating for the 8th consecutive year, told Saudi Gazette that this year’s festival is bigger and better as it has more varieties. “As manufacturers, it is the best time of the year for us, as we get to display our products, such as various types of roses, rose waters, rose oils, perfumed soaps, and other products from roses at the festival.”
Hamdan Al-Harbi, a father of three children from Makkah, said the festival is an amazing annual family get-together. “We enjoy the festival and the number of visitors seems to be increasing too every year. They come from all over the Kingdom and from abroad as well.”
Another excited visitor said that her trip to the festival was a great experience. She spent all her money buying souvenirs and enjoyed every bit of her stay at the park, despite the crowd who blocked her view from seeing the flowers.
Ayman Al-Homoud, organizer of the event, said the festival has become an international event for the first time due to the participation of a large number of international perfume companies. “We have coordinated with a number of foreign investors to attend the festival and meet in person with Taif rose producers. The flower festival aims to try and catch the flavor of Taif,” she said.
In recent years, the flower festival has turned into an important symbol of tourism, according to the director of Taif Tourism, Mohammed Qari.
Visitors look forward to more than one such festival in a year, but organizers said that economically it is not possible even though it is a pleasure organizing one.