Every year, when the spring season arrives, roses bloom in the city of Taif in western Saudi Arabia, turning the vast desert landscape into a bright pink image. These roses are harvested in April to collect the oil that is used to cleanse the outer walls of the Holy Kaaba in Makkah.
Rose City is the second name of Taif because nearly 300 million roses are grown there every year in over 800 flower farms, many of which welcome tourists. They fill baskets by hand when picking flowers in the fields.
Staff at the bin Salman farm herd rose bushes, selecting tens of thousands of flowers every day in order to produce rose water and oil, which are valuable ingredients in the beauty and cooking industries.
The flowers are then boiled and distilled. First, they are boiled on high heat until almost evaporate for about 30 to 35 minutes. After that, workers reduce the temperature for a period of 15-30 minutes, then the distillation process begins, which lasts for eight hours. As soon as the oil floats to the top of the glass tanks, it is time for the extraction process.
The oil is extracted by a large syringe to fill bottles of various sizes, and the price of the smallest is SR400 (about US$106).