Few may think of Saudi Arabia as a mountainous, rainy land, with a culture of men who wear flowers around their heads. Yet couture publishing company Assouline -- whose books on world locations like Capri, Ibiza and Palm Beach you may have noticed sprinkled around your favourite shoppes including Zara Home and Selfridges -- has just published a six book series on the Kingdom, which include 'Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage' and two volumes on Jeddah, including one on the old city Al-Balad.
Among these wonders, the most stunning perhaps is one on the 'Flower Men' of 'Asir. "On the high plateau of the 'Asir Province, the most mountainous region of Saudi Arabia, one of the greatest and best-kept secrets of Arab civilization lay hidden for centuries: the tribe of the Flower Men, so dubbed because it was their custom to wear garlands of flowers and leaves in their hair. This book honors the tribe’s past and present." So the book's description goes and there is even a way to take a look at it online, here. Nothing of course, compares to a leisurely afternoon spent in the book's company, while sitting on a comfy armchair, leafing through the beautiful pages featuring the stunning photography by Laziz Hamani, Ibrahim Sarhan, and Ziyad Alarfaj. Maybe even while sipping a hot cup of mint tea.
Just released, in May of 2022, the 224-pages volume features over 150 illustrations, weighs 2.3 kilos and is bound in a silk hardcover which makes it an elegant, as well as spellbinding read. It costs 95 Euros on the Assouline website.
The so-called 'Flower Men' of the high plateau of the 'Asir Province, the most mountainous region of Saudi Arabia, don headpieces, which they also sell to visiting tourists, that are the traditional garb of the members of the Qahtan tribe. They maintain the practice of donning flowers and greenery for the sake of both beauty and health. The Qahtanis claim to be the descendants of Ishmael, son of Abraham, of the Hebrew Bible. In Arabic, ‘Asir translates to ‘difficult’, and the challenging remoteness of 'Asir’s jagged cliffs led a handful of Qahtani families to flee here from the surrounding lowlands to escape the invading armies of the Ottoman Empire more than 350 years ago. Following the occupation of 'Asir by forces loyal to the House of Saud, the region was incorporated into the Saudi nation in 1932.