Garden Of The Hejaz: Taif

I am traveling to Taif on one of those scorching hot days typical of Saudi Arabia.

The first pleasure of this city 100 kilometers south of Mecca is a gentle breeze that seems to fly in the face of Mecca’s searing temperatures.  The fact that we are about 2,100 meters above sea level here undoubtedly has something to do with it.


Our destination, accessible by cable car, is El Khada, which means repose in Arabic. With its wooded environs, it more than deserves the name. The waters of the city, which boasts a number of dams large and small, are crystal clear unlike those in the rest of the country. Thanks to these dam waters which are fed by torrential rains, wheat, grapes, pomegranates and other fruit are grown in abundance. Indeed, Taif is known as the Garden of the Hejaz for the sheer number of its fruit orchards. And the most famous fruit of this garden are tiny figs the size of grapes. The taste of these figs, which are too small to peel, is extremely sweet despite their diminutive size.


Taif escapes notice due to its location in a protected zone. But this region, which, unlike Mecca and Medina, is not closed to non-Muslims, stands out immediately for its cleanliness and order. The city is a perfect summer resort. Boasting luxury hotels, it makes no secret of the fact that it hosts the rich and privileged with supreme courtesy and grace. Several Companions of the Prophet Muhammad once lived in Taif, which was also an important military command post in the Ottoman period. And a mosque bearing the name of Abdullah ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet known as ‘the walking Quran’, is one of the city’s leading centers.If you happen to go to Mecca, don’t leave without seeing this splendid city with a modest demeanor, to get away from the Meccan heat and taste the unique and delicious fruit of the Garden of the Hejaz. Accessible by cable car in just 12 minutes.


When you go to Taif, don’t miss the Shubra Palace, which was built during the Ottoman era and later converted into a museum. Shubra Palace Museum is one of the city’s oldest with close to 4,000 artifacts. Not only that, the Rose Festival at El-Khada, one of Taif’s most beautiful hills and famous for its rose production, is a veritable feast for the eyes.