Taif, Summer Capital
Taif (means "encompassing") is located in the mountains of Saudi
Arabia I the Hijaz area, 2 hours driving time from Jeddah. Because
of its 6,000 foot elevation and generous rainfall, the city has a
pleasant year round climate with mild summers (80-90F degrees) and
cool winters (40F, warm clothing is needed).
The normal population of approximately 300,000 may double during
the summer months when Taif becomes the summer capital. Throughout
the year, the city is one of the most popular holiday resorts. Taif
is a contrast of the old and new. There are ultra modern government
offices of marble and glass besides the old mud structures with
wooden louvre windows and carved wooden doors. The plantings of
oleander and palms enhance the old and new building.
The Local Scene
Shopping: If you know where to look, goes the saying, you
will find everything you want. Knowing where to look requires some
time, energy and patience. Shopping is excellent in Taif. The shops
range from small general shops (souqs) to well-established boutiques
and a department store. Shopping if fun and eventually you will e
able to find everything to meet your needs. The best buys are
electronic equipment, French perfume and gold jewellery. Shopkeepers
are honest and in the "souq" bargaining is an artful skill. The
traditional Bedouin Taif souqs are among the most famous in the
Kingdom especially for collectors of Bedouin jewellery, carpets,
The grocery stores are unique. There are many small grocery
stores and three large supermarkets. The fruit and vegetable shop
has beautiful, fresh products; again, bargaining is proper. Food
prices are for fresh meats and vegetables are reasonable. They do
carry a good range of canned frozen and meats and vegetables are
reasonable. They do carry good range of imported canned frozen and
packaged foods but prices are high on these items. Good bakeries are
located throughout the city. Locally made bread is inexpensive and
Sunburn: The sun is extremely strong in Saudi Arabia
throughout the year. Always protect yourself against the sun to
High altitude & low humidity: Al Hada is located in
the Taif Mountains at an altitude of 6,000-Ft. (1,800 meters). At
this altitude, oxygen is less readily available and new arrivals
will normally feel somewhat short of breath, especially when
exercising, climbing stairs or carrying heavy burdens.
These symptoms will subside spontaneously with acclimation in a
few days. Decrease smoking, don't overeat and drink plenty of
Taif-Jeddah Escarpment Road: This spectacular escarpment
is a beauty, which one never expects to encounter in this part of
the world. It is a marvel of engineering. Breathtaking and majestic,
the road rears 6,500 feet in 21 kilometres and 93 bends. However,
beware this is a dangerous road to travel especially after sunset.
You will travel this road on your way to Al Hada from Jeddah.
The people of the Taif region are hard working settled Bedouins
who have become herders and farmers. The landscape is terraced for
irrigating the fields, which are very productive. Much of what you
find in the vegetable shops have been grown locally. Taif is famous
for their pomegranates, roses and grapes.
Taif has a modern airport. There are frequent direct flights to
Jeddah, Riyadh, and the Eastern Province. The second highest
mountain in Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim Jebel is located near the Wadi
Turabah 40kn from Taif. This is an excellent spot for climbing,
picnicking and camping.
Places of Interest
Al Rudaf Park: Located south of Taif is a large natural
park where clumps of tree lie scattered amidst magnificent weathered
granite rocks. The site also has a small zoo.
Wadi Mitna: The Prophet Mohammed's sanctuary in 662AD,
first year of Hegira. Mohammed came here to gain support of the
Hawazeen and the Tawfiq but was stoned by the tribes. He was later
given sanctuary by his fellows in a small house now used as a
Al Shafa: A small village situated high upon the Sarawat
mountains, rich in agricultural products. The fruit gardens of Taif
are located here. Great view for the camera buff and for those with
an adventurous heart, try a camel ride.
Rock Carving Site: Located 40km north of Taif, this was
the site of the largest and most well known of the pre-Islamic souqs
or gathering places. The souq was a scene for annual social,
political and commercial gatherings. It was also the location of
competitive recitation of poetry and prose. The buildings remain,
including prominent outlines of walls of basaltic stone.
Nature Reserve: Between Al Hada hospital and the Sheraton
Hotel a the top of Al Hada mountain is a large nature preserve. Al
Hada means tranquillity and this preserve of trees and plants offers
a true respite. It is also good location to catch the sunset over
Turkish Fort: The remains of the fort are located near the
Rock Carvings, legend has it that Lawrence of Arabia fought here in
1917. Many battles have been fought there and many graves can be
Jeddah: Jeddah is a beautiful large modern city with a
population of over 2 million. It is not only the terminal of
international commercial air and sea traffic but also the point of
entry to Mecca. It offers great dining, shopping and access to
beaches and diving on the Red Sea.