Roses... the heart of Taif's aesthetic identity!
Ya reem Wady Tagif … (Oh, Thaqif Wadi's deer,)
Latif jismak Latif. (your body is so beautiful)
Mashut ana lak wasif … (I've never found anybody like you,)
Fi anas sheklak Gharib. (you're extraordinary among people)
That moment, when I first heard Najah Salam, the famous singer, singing those words on Arab Voice Radio for the first time 60 years ago, was the beginning of my journey to discover beauty.
A moment of cultural history must be documented. The first Saudi song broadcasted on Egyptian and Arab radio, with the first Arab female voice singing in the Gulf and Saudi dialects. The first poem melodized for Prince Abdullah al-Faisal and the first melody of Tarek Abdel Hakim, the godfather of the modern Saudi song.
This lovely collaboration between radio, singer, poet, and composer resulted in a song that is among the most beautiful and well-known songs of Saudi and Arab heritage. Wadi Thaqif is the place that made the song beautiful, but where is that place? Reem, who are you?! How did it inspire the poet? And what is the story behind that poem? Many details don't matter, because beauty has a meaning and a sense that shouldn't be interpreted. It has facets like the moon, dimensions that are different, and so many meanings, and they are all true. Let us dive into our imagination in the beauty of Wadi Thaqif.
Wadi Thaqif is located in the south of Taif City. The Arab tribe of Thaqif from the Huazan tribes inhabited it even before the advent of Islam.
Taif was Prince Abdullah al-Faisal's resort and also the hometown of the composer Tariq Abdul-Hakim. Saudi historian Professor Mohammed Sadiq Diab described it as follows: "Taif City was a jar of our dreams, distancing whenever we approached it as a girl with her lovers, and the road to it as a dancer's waist that was sparked by drums."
This is an aesthetic equation: the fragrance of the place, the expression of time and the beloved of the poet. I believe this song's immortalization over time is due to the fragrance of this reem. Vivid memories have always been tied to the sense of smell. Surely, the fragrance of the Reem Wadi Thaqi is Taif roses.
Dr. Latifa Al-Adwani, the supervisor of the Taif History Center at Taif University, stated that the rose is the heart of Taif's aesthetic identity, and she adds that legend tells us that five centuries ago, an Ottoman sultan sent to one of the notables in Makkah seeds of Damascus roses to be cultivated in Hejaz. He planted it in the Al Hada Mountains. Taif's roses became better than their original due to the proper mountainous tropography, the mild weather, the soil, and the dewdrops.
Taif Rose Essential Oil and water become the most precious fragrances. It became a brand for the finest brands such as Dior, Givenchy, and others. The first reap of these roses is a gift for the kings, and the king washes with it the honorable Kaaba. They also put its oil in Rukan Yamani (The Yemeni Corner) in Masjid al-Haram, and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is fragrant with it.
Taif is known as the City of Roses. In 1814, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, the Swiss explorer, was the first one mentioned these distinctive roses, and thereafter in the traveler's books.
Each spring, it produces more than 300 million roses on an area of 2.5 million square meters on 2.5 million rosebushes on more than 900 farms. Factories take the harvest and convert it into rose water or rose oil. Seventy thousand roses are the average daily picked number. Rose water or rose oil is used as a fragrance or added to luxury fragrances thanks to its strong and distinct scent. To produce a single flask containing 10 grams of fragrance, it takes 40, 000 roses, and the price per gram is SAR 120. Rose oil is calculated in tola units. A flask weighing 10g with a single tola of liquid rose oil is worth up to SAR 1,200.
Rose water is made using the distillation method. They are boiled for up to 14 hours in sealed distillation. Each has 1,200 roses and 120 liters of water. It will then be boiled again for 15 to 30 minutes to escalate rose water vapor from the distillation bowl to a tube extending to a cooling tank of no more than 20 to 35 degrees Celsius. This process results in 75 liters of distilled water flowing into three large glass receptacles. The market value of the Taif rose is estimated at SAR 35 million. Now it has become a strategic national economic commodity. This has become a part of Saudi Arabia's 2030 Vision and is invested in by the country through the Public Investment Fund.
The uses of Taif roses in the world of beauty are myriad. This rose is beautiful and has its distinctive fragrance in any house or garden. Taif rose water is hydrating, lovely, and vibrant for the skin. It also has therapeutic effects since it contains many vitamins. It is also used as an appetizer due to its cozy smell and as a spice added to foods and desserts. It acts as a mood-enhancing hormone, giving a sense of comfort and relaxation as a result of reducing the nervous activity responsible for stress.
The Taif rose, or the so-called "King of the Rose", becomes a sign of beauty in the poem. But that leaves us with the question, "Who is Reem Wadi Thaqif, the summer brunette?!" The Taif, adorned with her roses, drew and scented without a doubt. Indeed, it is one of the beautiful aspects of Saudi Arabia.