Beautiful Portrait Series Celebrates the Flower Men of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda

In Saudi Arabia's southern province of Asir, it's common to find stalls selling elaborate flower crowns. The intricate headpieces are highly detailed, and some weigh quite a bit due to the sheer amount of greenery they contain. And while flowers are often associated with women, these crowns will actually make their way onto the heads of a group known as the Flower Men.

Photographer Omar Reda set out to capture this unique tradition, which is carried on by members of the Qahtan tribe. Descendents of the ancient Tihama and Asir groups, these men are participating in a custom that dates back over 2,000 years. The crowns incorporate flowers, herbs, and greens and are worn for different reasons. They are readily available and can be customized to the wearer's style. Younger generations of Qahtani men often select crowns with colorful flowers and show off their personalities through aesthetics. The older generation often has a more minimalist approach to the design and often incorporates more herbs for their medicinal properties.

Reda, who has been fascinated by different cultures since childhood, traveled to the region in order to see the Flower Men for himself. While members of the tribe are notoriously closed to outsiders, they've opened up in recent years due to interest in their traditions. This allowed Reda to make connections and take a beautiful series of portraits that celebrates Qahtani culture.

“My hope is for people to develop a deeper appreciation for the flower crown tradition and to showcase the richness and diversified culture of Saudi Arabia,” Reda tells My Modern Met.

The Lebanese photographer, who is based in Saudi Arabia, also works as a creative director and this shines through in the final product. The portraits are pared down and straightforward, allowing viewers to hone in on the crowns and appreciate their details. It's a wonderful view of the world away from the globalization that surrounds us daily and is a reminder that these precious traditions should be respected and honored.

The Flower Men are members of the Qahtani tribe living in southern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda

The tradition is over 2,000 years old. Crowns are intricate and can be personalized to show off the wearer's personality.

Young Qahtani Man with a Flower Crown Young Qahtani Man with a Flower Crown Older Saudi Flower Man Wearing a Crown

The younger generation often incorporates colorful flowers and focuses on aesthetics.

Young Qahtani Man with a Flower Crown Young Qahtani Man with a Flower Crown Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda

While older members of the tribe often prefer more sober crowns and incorporate herbs with medicinal properties.

Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda Flower Crown in Saudi Arabia Older Saudi Flower Man Wearing a Crown Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda

Photographer Omar Reda hopes that these portraits will shed light on this beautiful cultural tradition.

Older Saudi Flower Man Wearing a Crown Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda Man in Saudi Arabia Wearing a Flower Crown Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda Saudi Flower Men by Omar Reda

Omar Reda: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Omar Reda.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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