Taʾif, al-

views updated


A highland city in Saudi Arabia's al-Hijaz region.

Al-Taʾif is about 75 miles southeast of the holy city of Mecca. Although located on a sandy plain, it possesses plentiful water, making it an important agricultural center serving Mecca and Jidda. Many inhabitants are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants from throughout the Islamic world, especially Yemen, the Indian subcontinent, and central Asia. Al-Taʾif was the first city of al-Hijaz to fall to the Al Saʿud in 1924, and the Ikhwan armies that first entered the city plundered it and massacred many of its inhabitants. It has long served as a summer residence for kings and wealthy Meccans, who are a mainstay of its economy, along with several Saudi military bases. Estimates in the early twenty-first century placed its permanent population at about 350,000, with a seasonal increase to 500,000. The nearby district of al-Shafa is a popular summer resort.

see also al saʿud family; ikhwan;saudi arabia.


Hogarth, David George. Hejaz before World War I: A Handbook, 1917. Reprint, New York: Oleander, 1978.

Peterson, J. E. Historical Dictionary of Saudi Arabia, 2d edition. Landover, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2003.

j. e. peterson