Taif (pronounced "Taayef", also written Ta'if) is a city in western Saudi Arabia. It is in the Hejaz mountains near Mecca and served as a summer retreat for the royals and commoners from neighboring areas. The city is the center of an agricultural area known for its grapes, pomegranate, figs, roses, and honey.
In the 6th century, before the rise of Islam, the city of Tā'if was a religious center as it housed the idol of the goddess Allāt, who was then known as "the Lady of Tā'if." Its climate marked the city out from its dry and barren neighbors closer to the Red Sea. Wheat, vines, and fruit were grown around Tā'if and this is how the city earned its title "the Garden of the Hejaz".
In AD 630, with the rise of Islam, the Muslims attempted an unsuccessful Siege of Ta'if. The city was assaulted by catapults, but it repelled the attacks. However, the Battle of Tabouk in 631 left Tā'if completely isolated, so city members arrived in Mecca to negotiate the conversion of the city to Islam. The idol of Allāt was destroyed along with all of the other signs of the city's previously pagan existence. The city has since been under various Islamic caliphates: Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluk, and finally the Ottomans.
The city remained Ottoman from 1517 until 1802, when it was retaken by rebels in alliance with the House of Saud. These forces then proceeded to take Mecca and Medina. The loss was keenly felt by the Ottoman Empire, which viewed itself as the protector of the Holy Cities. The Ottoman sultan, Mahmud II, called upon his nominal viceroy in Egypt, Muhammad Ali, who launched an attack on the Hejaz and reconquered Ta'if in 1813.
With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the city became part of the short-lived Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz, until the House of Saud annexed it.
Ta’if Regional Airport (IATA: TIF) is located some 15-20 km north-east of the city. Domestic flights are available to Abha, Dammam, Jazan, Jeddah, Medina, Nejran, Riyadh and Tabuk on Saudi. Flights to Cairo are available on Nile Air and Nesma Airlines, while Nile Air also offer flights to Alexandria. As of 2nd October 2013, flights are also available to Doha on Qatar Airways.
The main areas of Taif are:
The only way to get to these areas is by road. A well-established road network connects main places. Don't hesitate to ask locals, but mostly they won't speak English. The best way is to consult the concierge in your hotel.
Whenever you go, you will see breath-taking mountains. Trust me, your camera will be full of mountains pics.
Places to See
Located beside the Ramada Hotel, the newly opened cable car, which is the largest in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, will show you the extremely fantastic scenery of Taif's Mountains. If you are lucky you will be able to see monkeys. These cable cars, located in Al Hada Region will cost you a notable amount of money. The cable cars drop you in Al Kar Tourist Village, which is mainly a water games center with swimming pools. The cable car will cost you 30 Riyals for an adult and 15 Riyals for kids. If you wish to take a return trip, you will pay double. You can have your own cable car for 150 Riyals one way and 300 Riyals for two way. Don't Forget Your Camera! Since 2011 the price is 90 Riyals flat, this includes to and fro cable car and waterpark.
The most important thing you have to buy is fruit. Taif specializes in peach (khokh), pomegranate (romman), grapes (enab), and dates (tamr). These are the best fruits in Saudi Arabia.
Try to eat Saudi's own Kabsa or Bukhari Rice. The signature dish of Taif is "Seleeg," a sort of large-grain rice and milk pudding. However, be careful because hygiene in some restaurants is not satisfactory. Don't miss The Tazaj fast food chain.
As with the rest of Saudi Arabia, alcohol is strictly prohibited. You can drink Saudi champagne (alcohol free) from any coffee shop.