Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Roses of Taif

BFTF is always interested in stories that challenge stereotypes, so was fascinated to read about the cultivation of the damask rose in the Saudi Arabian city of Taif

A BBC article describes how Farmer Saleh Al-Nimri and his team of pickers can harvest up to 40,000 roses in a morning with Al-Nimri commenting that "If we leave the rose until noon all its perfume will evaporate."

The distillation process involves boiling 20,000 heads together with some 60 litres of fresh water down to around 35 litres of rose water, with the premium product being the thin film of rose oil [know as attar] left floating on top, which sells for a whopping $40,000 a litre. It is only available in vials half the size of your finger and the scent of it knocks you out.

The Beautiful Damask Rose

Further information can be found in a very detailed and conprehensive article by Aramco which comments on how the flowering period only last for the month of April, with harvesting starting at dawn and being over by 7am, the fragrance released as the roses are cut filling the air.

The article also describes how the water based distillation process results in a different product from the alcohol based distillation routes taken in some other rose growing areas, such as the south of France.

It also explains how the mash of rose petals produced by the distillation is sold to local dairy farmers, whose cows then produce gently rose flavoured milk !

Taif is far from being a one-trick pony, as it were, and has a number of cultural attractions (see here), ranging from an Ottoman era fort to a beautiful Souk.

Related Links
Challenging the Saudi Government on their policies

Image Source : Wikipedia

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