Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flower Men of Saudi Arabia


They live in the Habala Mountains that straddle Saudi Arabia's southern border with Yemen but take orders from neither government, instead living their lives under the dictates of tribal law.
Meet the 'flower men', a tribe of people descended from the ancient Tihama and Asir groupings and whose traditions, most strikingly the garlands of herbs and blooms they wear, date back more than two millennia.
 
But as photographer Eric Lafforgue discovered, they are the source of much unrest in the region, conducting cross-border battles and reacting violently should any outsider stumble into their turf - including to Lafforgue himself.
 
That remained the case until the early 1990s when the Saudi Arabian government, keen to boost tourism in the region, built cable cars to the villages and hotels for tourists to stay in.But with many of the flower men forced out of their homes by the development, clashes soon erupted and the area remains volatile - not least because of the turmoil in neighbouring Yemen.
 
'I had planned to be in the area for a few days but quickly realised it would be very difficult, 'Lafforgue revealed in an exclusive interview with MailOnline Travel. 'I had to stop and get a local escort of policemen before I could go into the area.
 
'The policemen told me some of the local people really hate foreigners, while even Saudi people aren't welcome in some villages.'link

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