At-Ta'if is a historic city located in the western region of Saudi Arabia, approximately 70 kilometers southeast of Mecca. With a rich history spanning over thousands of years, At-Ta'if has witnessed significant political, cultural, and religious developments that have shaped its identity and influenced its inhabitants.
In terms of population, At-Ta'if has experienced fluctuations over time. In recent decades, it has emerged as a rapidly growing city with a population that has expanded significantly. As of the last available data, the city is estimated to have around 1.5 million residents. However, it is important to note that these figures may have changed due to population growth and urbanization.
The history of At-Ta'if predates the advent of Islam, with evidence of human settlement dating back to prehistoric times. The city has been inhabited by various civilizations, including the Thamud, Lihyanites, and Nabateans. Its strategic location in the mountains of the Arabian Peninsula allowed it to thrive as an important trade route connecting southern Arabia to the Levant and other regions.
During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, At-Ta'if was inhabited by the Thaqif tribe. In the early years of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad sought to spread the message of Islam to the people of At-Ta'if but faced significant resistance. The Thaqif tribe, in particular, staunchly opposed his teachings, leading to the Prophet's unsuccessful attempt to gain their support. This event, known as the "Ta'if incident," proved to be a pivotal moment in Islamic history, highlighting the challenges faced by early Muslims and their perseverance in the face of adversity.
Centuries later, in the 19th century, At-Ta'if became the center of the First Saudi State under the rule of Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz. This marked a period of relative stability and prosperity for the city. However, the political landscape underwent significant changes in the early 20th century with the rise of the modern Saudi state.
At-Ta'if played a crucial role during the formation of modern Saudi Arabia. In 1924, King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, captured At-Ta'if from the rival Rashidi dynasty, solidifying his control over the region. The city served as the provisional capital of Saudi Arabia until it was moved to Riyadh in 1932. This shift had a profound impact on the development and trajectory of At-Ta'if, as it transitioned from being a political center to a more regional city.
The geography of At-Ta'if has greatly influenced its history and development. Nestled in the rugged terrain of the Sarawat Mountains, the city enjoys a pleasant climate that differs from the scorching heat of the surrounding desert. The mountainous landscape, characterized by fertile valleys and terraced fields, has made At-Ta'if an agricultural hub renowned for its fruit orchards, especially grapes, pomegranates, and roses. The city's unique geographical features have not only shaped its economy but also contributed to its distinct cultural heritage.
Furthermore, the geographical location of At-Ta'if has made it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Its elevation of approximately 1,800 meters above sea level provides respite from the sweltering temperatures experienced in other parts of Saudi Arabia. The city's natural beauty, including its picturesque landscapes and stunning views, has made it a favored summer retreat for many.