Fragrance Trends

From ancient culture to modern luxury


Chiara Buongiornio


With a history spanning more than 5,000 years, Arabian perfumes are steeped in exotic and local traditions. Take a walk down any of the Middle Eastern souks, be it the Khan al Khalili street in Cairo, the Sikkat al Khalili street in Dubai or the frankincense trail in Dhofar and Salalah in Oman, it will surely be one smelly affair that you won’t forget. 

Arabian perfumes have long been alluring the world with their distinct fragrances and are now synonymous with ancient heritage as well as fine luxury. The Middle East is witnessing a strong transformation in terms of taste and lifestyle. Local consumers have strong desire for products which spell luxury through a superior exceptional image. Major multinational brands are therefore increasing their special edition products designed for local taste. In terms of fine fragrance we have seen the introduction of oudh in many well-known global fragrances.

The Middle East revolution has targeted not only fine fragrance but also fashion and beauty, the boom of fashion bloggers has spread everywhere in the region. Fashion lovers are over-prepared in terms of latest trends and this makes life very easy for many multinational brands. 

Walking through a mall or through the small streets of the old souks, it’s impossible to not smell the real essence of the Middle East. The intoxicating aromas of oudh or sandalwood waft in the air and the smoke of the bakhoor floats through the atmosphere releasing its powerful scent. 

In the Middle East, fragrance is so ingrained in the culture—the Persians were the first to use distillation to extract oils from flowers—that residents rarely go a day without it. Fragrance is often considered a spiritual way to anoint yourself before prayer, but it’s also a personal statement: Local women wearing abayas (a loose, robe-like dress) walk along leaving behind a beautiful trail of strong perfume. Taif rose and musk combined with notes of amber and vanilla are left behind as a sign of power and hidden sensuality. Where smoldering incense and fragrant teas are ubiquitous, strong wood notes are popular—earthy vetiver, sensual oud—and there’s a love of layering. Men start their ritual in their cars, spraying the most expensive perfumes with strong notes of Leather, Oudh and other precious woods. 

The main ingredients


Oud (or Oudh) is one of the most expensive perfume ingredients in the world. It comes from the wood of the tropical Agar (Aquilaria) tree, believed to have originated in the Assam region of India, and from there spread throughout Southeast Asia. When the wood of this tree becomes infected with a certain mould variety (Phialophora parasitica), it reacts by producing a precious, dark and fragrant resin, giving us the ingredient oud (also called agarwood). 

Oud is highly valued by perfumers. Its scent can be described as woody, warm, animalic, leathery and sometimes cheesy. It is usually considered as a base note in fragrance composition. 


The Saudi Arabian city of Taïf has a glorious history, rich culture, and a unique geographic position, climate and fertile soil that have transformed it into a beautiful garden paradise. Here, the roses are more powerful, fresh, and possess a very sophisticated fragrance- the Taïf Rose oil is considered the best in the Arab world, the only place where it has been available- until today. 

Taif Rose flowers, whose fragrance is even more intense than the fragrance of the Damask Rose, are harvested in April, in the early morning hours, because the buds bloom at dawn. It is necessary to pick them before the Sun and the heat of the day destroy the essential oils needed for the production of rose water.


Saffron is an aromatic and very expensive spice by weight, it is known as “the king of spices” and “red gold”. It is utilised for cooking, staining, medicine, cosmetics and perfumes. It is a native plant of Southeast Asia. However, exact origin is uncertain, but was probably Asia Minor, where it has a long history of cultivation. It is widely used in perfumery thanks to its intense and sweet spicy smell especially when it is blended with other raw materials. 

The legendary home fragrance

Bukhoor, or Bakhoor, is the Arabic name given to scented bricks or a blend of traditional ingredients; (mainly woodchips) soaked in fragrant oils and mixed with other natural ingredients (resin, ambergris, musk, sandalwood and essential oils).

Traditionally these resins and wood chips were placed over hot ambers in a hand-crafted receptacle often made of brass and used to cleanse, purify and scent an environment. Used more often than not for spiritual pursuits, as the beautiful aroma of traditionally made Bukhoor is commonly reported to attract angelic beings, and repel evil spirits. 


Spring / Summer 2017

This edition launches the new look of our trend magazine, which for the first time incorporates our new corporate branding. Inspired by the world of fashion we bring you new ideas and insights that help to grow your brands and delight your customers.

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