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Flower Power in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, in the Jizan and Asir southern provinces, along the yemeni border, live the reclusive Flower Men. For centuries, these descendants of the ancient Tihama and Asir tribes love to wear colorful garlands on their head. The Flower Men are keen to retain their tradition of floral decorations, as it is a peaceful way of setting them apart from the rest of the country. Twenty years ago, they were living totally isolated, without electricity or paved roads, and they lived according to traditional tribal law. For the longest time, they were reluctant to have their photos taken or even meet foreigners. The first studies were led only in the 90’s by french photographer Thierry Mauger. Flower Men have a unique privilege in the Kingdom: 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. With the increasing pace of economic development within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, things are changing quickly even …