One of the things the Middle East is known for are its perfumes. The word “perfume” is derived from the Latin “per fume” which literally translates as “through smoke.” The oldest perfume can be traced back to over 2000 years ago when the ancient Egyptians, who greatly cherished their scents, would place them in beautiful glass bottles. Perfume is then said to have spread with the expansion of Islam. Some scholars have even suggested that the Prophet Mohammed had a love for fragrances. One such scent is rose water which is used throughout Arabic culture as a way of purifying mosques, flavoring Turkish delights,teas, and also on guests from a flask called a “gulabdan.” Today Luxury houses such as Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani as well as other well established brands such as Jo Malone and Guerlain are tapping into the powerful scents from the Middle East.
Ingredients found locally include oud, musk, rose, sandalwood, saffron and frankincense usually scents which are termed strong and not for those who are highly-sensitive to powerful smells. The host of new scents blend the Arabian ingredients in a sophisticated way which is becoming quite popular in the West. Giorgio Armani, whose infatuation with region includes the recently opened Armani hotel, has just added three more exclusive scents to the Armani/ Prive couture range all of which are influenced by Arabia. He has included the fragrances of Oud Royal, Rose D’Arabie, and Ambre Orient successfully merging scents from the Middle East with those from the West.
In addition, the British Perfume house Jo Malone will launch an Arabic inspired Cologne Intense collection in September. Malone was greatly taken by the centuries old process of blending various scents and oils and wanted to experiment for himself. Paco Rabanne’s recent new scent, Lady Million, incorporates Arabian Jasmine to balance the perfume’s more fruity scents.
Thus Western brands are quickly tapping into the love for fragrance which is so much part of life in the Middle East. If you want to purchase real authentic Arabian perfume then look into names such as Ajmal, Rasasi, Al Haramain and SwissArabian perfumes which are among the most popular. Another good brand is Amouage, the Sultan of Oman’s fragrance house, offers Ubar Woman (770 AED for 100ml) which blends Damascene rose, jasmine and tuberose.
The unique scents of the Middle East are powerful, intimate and historical. The blending of old traditions of Arabian fragrance with more subdued western and modern scents has inspired people across the globe and is further developing, as we speak, the beautiful tale of Arabian perfume.