OREANDA-NEWS.   Qatar Airways announced it will begin flights to Ta’if, in the Mecca province of Saudi Arabia, beginning 2 October 2013.  The non-stop service from Doha will operate four-times-a-week.

“For nearly 20 years we have been steadily growing our presence and services to Saudi Arabia,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker.  “As our sixth destination, Ta’if will bring additional connectivity for passengers connecting from Asia, the Middle East and GCC countries.”

The Doha – Ta’if route will be operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A320 with an average travel duration time of just over two hours.  The aircraft will feature 144 seats in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 seats in Economy. Selected aircraft will feature seatback TV screens, providing passengers with the next generation interactive on board entertainment system, featuring a choice of more than 800 audio and video on-demand options, together with an SMS text messaging service from each seat.

The launch marks the continued expansion of services by Qatar Airways to Saudi Arabia since it began in 1997 with non-stop flights to Jeddah. Since then the airline has added Riyadh, Dammam, Madinah and Gassim to its portfolio of destinations.
Those wishing to visit Ta’if have a variety of cultural and outdoor activities to add to their trip. They include:

• Al Rudaf Park: Located south of Tai’f is a large natural park where clumps of tree lie scattered amidst magnificent weathered granite rocks. The site also has a small zoo.

• 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 at several places on this page about Tai’f .

• Rock Carving Site: Located 40 km (25 mi) north of Ta’if, is Okaz Souk, the site of 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.

• Nature Reserve: At the top of Al Hada mountain is a large nature preserve at an elevation of 2100 meters above sea level. Al Hada means tranquility 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 Tai’f  are located here. Great view for camera buffs and for those with an adventurous heart, try a camel ride.