Saudi Arabia’s ‘Flowerman Festival’ kicks off celebrating history, tradition

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Hundreds of people are gathering in the village of Rijal Almaa in Saudi Arabia's southwestern Asir region to attend the Flowerman Festival, an immersive event which includes a variety of activities exploring the region’s history and traditions.

The festival celebrates the ancient tradition of wearing garlands, decorative wreaths of flowers and leaves that can be worn as headdresses or around the neck. It also showcases some of the village’s most important customs dating back to the 1950s, including regional folklore dances and the colorful murals local women paint on the walls of their homes.

The Ministry of Culture, which organized the festival, said on its official Twitter page, “The Flowerman Festival celebrates the ancient tradition of wearing beautiful floral garlands, with events that showcase this important part of the rural culture in Rijal Almaa in the Southern region of Saudi Arabia.”

The ministry added that the event aims to highlight a time when people were connected to nature and created flower crowns from nature's bloom.

Flower crowns are popular among male members of the Qahtan tribe in the Asir province. The floral headpieces are usually made of red and orange blooms, which the tribe believes will enhance their beauty and health, and are often worn to ward off headaches or sinus problems.

The three-week event, which is taking place from August 12 until the end of the month, is part of al-Soudah Season, a month-long event promoting outdoor activities in Asir.

The Flowerman Festival includes live music, a light show, traditional dances, horseback riding, zip lines, paintball, and heritage markets displaying handmade crafts which encapsulate the region’s history.

Angelos Lenos, a political officer at the Delegation of the European Union in Riyadh who attended the Flowerman Festival, praised his experience of the festival. “The architecture of the buildings, the history of the region, the small museums documenting the central role of women in all aspects of social and economic life of the village, and the beauty of the painting of the interior of the local houses created an amalgam portraying the rich culture of al-Soudah,” said Lenos.

The al-Soudah Season is one of the Kingdom’s 11 festival seasons that occur throughout the year.

“The existence of these festivals provides an opportunity to young Saudi men and women to experience their multifaceted history and culture of their country and enable foreigners to enjoy the country in a way that was never expected. This is a window to demonstrate to the world the creative spirit of [the Kingdom],” Lenos added.

The events also aim to transform Saudi Arabia into a tourist destination. Each season features a different theme to highlight different aspects of Saudi Arabia’s heritage and culture. The most recent festivals were Jeddah Season and Taif Season, which is concurrent with the al-Soudah Season.