Taif Rose

When speaking about the best of rose oils some of the places that come to mind are Kazanlik in Bulgaria, Isparta and Istanbul in Turkey, Damascus in Syria, Shiraz in Iran, Kannuaj in India and Taif in Saudi Arabia. These places are also linked by the type of rose that is grown there the Rosa Damascena better known as Damask Rose.


Whilst the type of plant maybe the same or similar, the regions that they are grown in give the oils their distinct characteristic. To some extent the roses are what has made some of these regions famous. Many theories exist as to the origin of this rose, and how it got around to the different places, but I wont get into that other than to say that the Ottomans had a lot to do with it.

Speaking of the Ottomans, they brought this wonderful plant to Saudi Arabia and planted it in the valleys of what was to become the Rose of Arabia, the ancient city of Taif. Taif has been the summer retreat of rulers for centuries and it is no different today with the Al Saud. In simple terms it becomes the government capital in summer. However that is not what makes Taif famous.

Taif gets her fame from the Taif Rose Festival. Every year held between end of March and early May the whole valley smells irresistibly rosey. You can smell rose when you open your window , out doors as you drive, even the cows milk tastes rosey. Yes and I am not joking, some farmers feed the cows the spent matter from distilleries and for a good few weeks there is naturally rose scented milk in the market.

The Families

The season of Taif rose is only a few months away now and as some of you may know the rose business in Taif is controlled by 5 main families Al Qurashee, Al Qadhi, Al Kamal Al Ghuraybi and Al Solhi. There is a lot of competition in producing the best oil, as the recognition comes from the Royal family, the honor can be so great for the best oil that it is used in the washing of the Holy Kabah.

The Market

When comparing the quantity of oil that is produced in Taif vs Turkey or Bulgaria, it is minute, and the demand is much bigger than the supply for it. As such the oil is all gone within the first few months if not weeks. There is a huge demand now from big perfume houses such as Amouage, Dior etc for this product, so daily the prices are going higher and the demand is starting to impact the quality. As the oil starts its journey to the market handlers mix rose oils from other regions to increase the volume. From here on the story is very familiar to all of us, as it happens with Oudh, Sandalwood…and the list goes on, the more people involved the more mixing that occurs.

In general, and simple terms there are three factors that can change the scent of the Taifi oil;

  1. Like any natural plant the Taifi rose does differ season to season and this is a reflection of the natural elements such as rain, temperature, soil etc.
  2. Adulteration of the Taifi rose oil with other rose oils
  3. Adulteration of the Taifi rose oil with stretch oils that are not rose.
    The latter being the worst of the three factors for variance.
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The fragrance of middle eastern royalty, natural, niche and luxury.