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:
- Al Shafa (الشفا): A natural place with green scenery and a good picnic location.
- Al Hada (الهدا ): Famous for its cable cars and the Al Kar Tourist Village.
- The Town (البلد): Where you can eat and where locals Live.
- South Road (طريق الجنوب): high way to south of Saudi Arabia and it has beautiful sight.
- Maysan (ميسان): A natural place with green scenery and a good picnic location and it has a huge amount and great high look out and magnificent sight and weather. to go there you need to have car and take south road till you see board written to Maysan.
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 SeeEdit
- 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: Muhammed's sanctuary in 619 AD. Muhammed 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 mosque.
- Ta'if rose plantation. In the month of April the rose fields are filled with these small fragrant pink roses that are picked at dawn and later distilled into expensive ta'if rose oil. Ta'if perfume has been used in several luxury perfumes including Ormonde Jayne Perfumery, Chanel and Guerlain.
- Shubra Palace, the regional museum of Ta'if, located in a building of around 1900, which served King Abdul Aziz as a lodging in the 1930s.<ref>Some information at several places on this page about Taif.</ref> 
- Rock Carving Site: Located 40 km north of Taif, this was the site of the Okaz Souk,    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.
- 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 found
- Nature Reserve: Between Al Hada hospital and the Sheraton Hotel at the top of Al Hada mountain is a large nature preserve at an elevation of 2100 meters above sea level. 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 the mountain.
- Al Shafa: A small village situated high upon the Sarawat mountains at an elevation of 2200 to 2500 meters above sea level, 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.
- When driving to Jeddah from Ta'if non-Muslim travellers will have to use the non-Muslim Bypass to get around Mecca, this adds about 70 mi to your trip.
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.
- Fitfat (Qabeela Fitfat), Base of Al Hada. This is one of the most famous tribes of Taif, know for their hospitality. Ask them, and they will write one of their famous poems singing your praise. Some stores in the region translate these poems and frame them for you. edit
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.