By Irfan Mohammed : Taif’s annual rose festival, the largest and longest running flower show in the region, concluded on Saturday leaving a high note on the city known for its exquisite beauty and the fragrance of its roses.
For first time, the festival lasted for 18 days, recording the highest number of visitors ever.
As many as 1,456,000 visitors from within the Kingdom and abroad visited the festival which coincided with the spring break for schools.
The pleasant festival atmosphere turned the hill city into a place of hectic activity for two weeks.
“We have received overwhelming response, which was more than expected,” said Naif Al-Osaimi, the festival’s official spokesman.
He told that the organizers extended the festival to 18 days due to popular demand. There was a 100 percent increase in trade deals compared with previous festivals, he added.
He said numerous expatriates from all parts of the Kingdom had visited the festival.
Osaimi said floral delegations from the US, Canada, Germany and Turkey came for the festival. The American delegation was accompanied by US Consul General in Jeddah Matthias Mitman.
The German delegation, accompanied by a Riyadh-based diplomat, also visited rose oil factories in Hada near to Taif. The visitors were impressed by the technology used to extract oil from roses. Canadian and Turkish delegations also visited the plants and rose gardens of Taif, Osaimi said.
The change of venue to Radaf Park put an end to many complaints that were made during previous festivals and contributed to a jump in rose sales. The roads leading to Radaf Park were quite busy in the last two weeks, said Mohammed Saleem, a long-time resident of Taif.
More than 30 different recreational and entertainment activities primarily focusing on children were held on the sidelines of the festival. Also a wide range of awareness and coordination programs were conducted for rose farmers to boost marketing and scientific harvesting of flowers.
Taif produces more than 300 million roses annually and its rose water and oil are popular in the entire Gulf region.
Rose oil is being sold from SR1,400 to SR1,800 per tola (about 11.5 grams), depending on the grade of the flower.