Arabic:حبلة) is a small mountain village in
'Asir Region of
Saudi Arabia. It was originally inhabited by a tribal community known as the "flower men" because of their custom of wearing garlands of dried herbs and flowers in their hair. In the past, the village was only accessible by
rope ladder, and in fact, the name Habala comes from the
Arabic word for
rope. They were supposedly fleeing the Turks at the time of the Ottoman Empire.
Habala Valley near Abha, Saudi Arabia
In the 1990s, during a push to promote tourism in the region, a
cable car was built to provide access to the traditional village with its stark mountain views. In consequence, however, the local "flower men" were dispossessed of their homes and forced to move into a modern village created for them in the valley below. When they refused to move, they were evacuated forcibly by the
Saudi Arabian National Guard. Today, some of the original inhabitants are allowed back up to the village, but only to perform their traditional
dances for tourists during the summer months. I am not sure about the accuracy of this account as we visited this area in 1986, long before any cable car was built. Al Habala village had already been evacuated, and no one was living there. Therefore, it was already empty in 1990 when the cable car was built. A more likely story is that because they were no longer suffering from persecution from the Ottomons, and life in the area was now safe, they had no reason to live in such as inaccessible place.
"Another scenic area, although isolated, is northwards along the escarpment from Habalah. Here three great pillars of rock stand away from the edge of the escarpment. One, with a top shaped like
Cleopatra's needle, is supposed to make a poet of anyone who can stay there all night without becoming insane. The others are flat topped with a green sward and on one are the remains of house foundations as well as many cairns arranged like sentinels along the edge of the sheer cliff."