Middle East showcased this story in pictures of certain peoples of the Arabian peninsula. Amongst their present wide and diverse variety, the Flower Men of Saudi Arabia are exceptionally unique in their well held till today customs.
These are the
of the ancient Tihama and Asir, fierce warriors, reclusive tribesmen, and
lovers of floral headwear.
Eric Lafforgue, 12 Mar 2019
The most elegant wreaths are made with a type of white jasmine that is so fragile it has to be kept in iceboxes by the sellers. A wreath like this can be worn for two days. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
Saudi Arabia – In Jizan and Asir, Saudi Arabia’s southern
provinces, live the reclusive Flower Men.
For centuries, these descendants of the ancient
Tihama and Asir tribes have been known for wearing colourful flower garlands on
They lived completely isolated until 20 years ago;
their villages had no electricity or paved roads and they lived according to
traditional tribal law.
Even today, the Flower Men were reluctant to have
their photos taken or even meet strangers.
They enjoy their peaceful way of life and the
margin of autonomy they are given.
They are the only tribes in Saudi Arabia who
are allowed to grow and consume khat, a stimulant drug. Possession of
drugs is punishable by the death penalty in the kingdom.
The Flower Men also hold strongly to their
tradition of floral decorations as a peaceful way of setting them apart.
community spreads across the border into Yemen, a country the Saudi-led
coalition is targeting in air raids.
The mountainous region has become popular and attracts many local tourists from the lowlands. The Flower Men grow coffee on the terraces, but also khat, a stimulant drug. This is an exception in a country where possession of drugs leads to the death penalty. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
Flower Men can also be found on the other side of the border: in Yemen. Because they feel a strong kinship with the people in Yemen, the war there makes people unhappy. The conflict also affects the local economy and brings many refugees into Saudi Arabia. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
Flower Men do not wear the traditional ghutra (headdress), instead adorning their heads with beautiful, scented wreaths of fresh flowers. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
Sometimes the Flower Men will share images of their wreaths on social media platforms like Instagram. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
The Flower Men go to the market early in the morning to buy ready-made wreaths. Some prefer to select their own herbs and flowers, preparing the garlands themselves, for a more unique look. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
Herbs such as wild basil, fenugreek and marigold flowers are most popular. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
In the Mahalah Flower Men market, an old man wears traditional shoes made of palm leaves. Things started to change with the construction of a cable car track in the 1990s that allowed access to the remote villages of the Flower Men. But traditions remain strong with the elders. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
This is a village that was inhabited by the Flower Men until the 1980s. Some of the structures are more than 200 years old. Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera
For more pictures, visit