Damascus Countryside, Beyond being known for its heady fragrance, the Damask Rose (Damascene Rose or Rosa Damascena) is described as the queen of flowers and the ambassador of Syria to the world.
The Damask Rose, named after Damascus, has long been used for rose oil or attar of roses, and is commonly used to flavour food and make rose water.
The intense smell of the famed Damascene Rose, associated with a bygone era of romance and Arab grandeur, fills the foothills of the Qalmoun mountain range north of Damascus.
The fields of the rose cover 2,000 dunums in al-Mrah village, Qeldoun as it was known in the past, the birthplace place for the rose cultivation on the foothills of the Qalamoun mountains.
Amin Hamza al-Bitar, head of al-Mrah Damask Rose Association said that he has been working for more than 40 years in the cultivation of the rose, pointing to the efforts being exerted to revive and expand this cultivation.
He added that although the Damascene Rose does not need much irrigation if there is enough rainfall, but during the last decades the percentage of rainfall and snow decreased, which increased the suffering of the farmer due to low and variable rate of production according to rainfall rate.
Awater well for supplementary irrigation was opened but it was not enough, al-Bitar said, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture began to periodically send tanks for watering.
Some locals in al-Mrah village who grow Damask Roses, said the importance of this rose lies in the fact that it is used in various industries, mainly rose oil, rose water, and jam, among others, noting that locals work throughout winter to prepare the lands for planting in spring.
They added that locals have been farmers since ancient times, but the cultivation of the Damask Rose became more prominent after the care shown by the state to this crop.
The Damask Rose is a vital source of income for many, they said, stressing the importance the need to expand and preserve this cultivation due to the very high value of the rose and its deep-rooted history.
Every year, all people in al-Mrah participate in the process of picking the Rose which is transformed into annual festival called Damascene Rose Harvest Day festival.
Source: Syrian News and Info Agency