Which are the noteworthy luxury Middle Eastern Perfumes? How are they capitalising on the growth of the local perfume market?
The Middle East has been a market with high per capita consumption of luxury perfumes since time immemorial and the figures continue to grow. Euromonitor predicts Middle East and Africa perfume market growth from 5.7 billion USD in 2018 to 8.5 billion USD by 2021. The strong demand in niche luxury perfumery sales in this region has encouraged long established and new local perfumery brands to create new interesting perfume concepts. The Saudi, Omani and UAE markets are more traditional in perfume choice, whereas Kuwaitis are more experimental and enjoy East meets West fragrance partnerships.
There are many more perfume houses targeting the Middle East market with oriental creations who are manufacturing abroad. Such as the House of Oud, Amouroud, Xerjoff, Sospiro, Memo, Nejma, Montale, and Frederick Malle, to mention but a few. Due to current consumption rates, the Middle Eastern perfume market continues to be a highly attractive proposition. In this blog post we focus only on the local oriental brands born and bred in the Middle East. It is surprising, given the relative size and consumption of the market, that the Saudi market has not developed any noteworthy luxury perfume brands. Arabian Oud is a noteworthy fragrance company making quality perfumes, however its activities have not yet been focused on the higher priced luxury market, more mid luxury.
Ahjaar – UAE
This is a product creation developed for Paris Gallery to sell exclusively in their luxury perfume retail chain. Its simplistic yet luxurious packaging approach revives memories of Guerlain’s Encens Mythique d’orient.
Amouage – Oman
Amouage is a long standing perfume house with the backing of the Omani royal family. Amouage has gone from strength to strength to place its brands in the most luxurious exclusive points of sale the world over over the last twenty years. At the early part of the 2000s Amouage was still very much a regional player with a very oriental approach in packaging and presentation. I recall buying Cristal Gold by Amouage in the late 1990s. Despite the beauty and opulence of the old style packaging, it is doubtful that Amouage would have achieved such wide appeal if it had not changed later to a simpler ‘East meets West’ style of packaging and presentation.
The brand has managed to reinvent itself as a sleek luxury brand with sophistication and wide appeal thanks to the expertise of Christopher Chong who was their in-house marketing expert until 2019. Each new range has a clear story behind it and the fragrances have mostly oriental notes, yet are very popular the world over. Amouage has achieved great success from Russia to Australia, a success emulated by many.
Arcadia – UAE
Amna al Habtoor, UAE resident from a prominent local family, has recently launched Arcadia perfumes by Amna. The perfumes are based on oriental nostalgia and each perfume comes with a booklet explaining the story behind it.
Anfas by Assim Al Qassim – UAE
A creation of Assim al Qassim, a nostalgic approach to niche oriental perfumery, combining old trusted ingredients with some unexpected notes such as mango. The new collection WATAN (nation) is inspired by endless love.
Designer Shaik – Bahrain
The brand Chic Shaikh brand is only widely available in the Middle East region and some limited distribution in other countries. It has created truly innovative packaging unlike any perfume in the world, complete with perfume bottle refill stations at certain point of sale. One of the great things of the brand is that bottles are refillable and the luxurious packaging can be sent away for refurbishment to maintain its beauty.
Ghawali – UAE
This is a relatively new niche brand owned and launched by Chalhoub perfume distribution group with its own range of body care and perfumes. The products are largely distributed in their own bespoke retail outlets located in areas heavily frequented by local Arabs.
The perfumes are based on Middle Eastern heritage using combinations of ingredients popular in the region to create unisex creations. Its simple packaging is elegant and understated.
Kayali – UAE
Kayali perfume is a recent entrant to the Middle East perfume market. Launched by the Kattan sisters of the huge Dubai based cosmetics company Huda Beauty, the brand has been launched exclusively in Sephora retail outlets. With fragrances such as vanilla, white flowers, musk and citrus, the perfume is based on layering principles, you need more than one to build up your fragrance and match your mood.
Khaltat blends of Love – UAE
This is a niche luxury perfume brand sold mainly in private luxury kiosks in the most popular shopping malls. It is the creation of the Mohamed Hilal group. Not satisfied with the success of its oriental oil perfumes – Hind al Oud, the Hilal Group has now entered the luxury spray niche perfume market. This brand will also be sold in the new luxury concept stores HOB where new colour cosmetics ranges will also be on sale.
Majan Perfumes – Oman
The packaging of the brand is slightly reminiscent of the Kuwaiti brand The Fragrance Kitchen, as all perfumes are housed in the same size round tall bottle. However, the decoration is more pretty and oriental than the Fragrance Kitchen which prefers a more modern, illustrative style for each bottle.
Odict – Kuwait
Odict is a collaboration between two friends of Saudi and Kuwaiti descent. Inspiration comes from typical Middle Eastern ingredients such as oud, frankincense, amber and saffron and are mixed with contemporary notes such as fresh smelling bergamot, orange blossom and grapefruit. The packaging is minamalistic and ultra modern. The brand has used the region’s heritage of pearl diving as a starting point for the creative inspiration of its brand imagery.
Oman Luxury – Oman
A relatively new entrant into niche luxury perfumery which was developed in collaboration with french perfumers and Hamid Merati- Kashani from Firmenich. The old perfume was in a square tall bottle, but the new bottle is more round and the cap is now quite similar to the one made by Ghawali.
Rasasi – UAE
Rasasi have been specialising in mass market high quality products until the last few years when they launched products such as Boruzz oud collection and La Yuqawam. Now that the niche luxury market has grown and become more attractive, they have added some very attractive luxury items to their product lines.
The Fragrance Kitchen – Kuwait
The perfume was launched with a modern, funky approach to its perfume packaging, it is the brainchild of the Emir of Kuwait Sheik Majed al Sabeh. The perfumes are largely unisex and draw on middle eastern themes and use traditional ingredients which are unique to Middle Eastern perfumery. This niche brand is enjoying success overseas in urban cosmopolitan areas such as London and New York.
The Spirit of Dubai – UAE
The Spirit of Dubai was developed by Nabeel perfumes who are better known for their mass market perfume creations. They developed The Spirit of Dubai perfume niche concept to cash in on the prestige, glamour and luxury of the Dubai name. Each perfume has a different theme relating to the luxury world of Dubai from horse racing to tall towers, falconry and local bedouin heritage.
The Shamukh perfume which means ‘deserving the best” is said to be the world’s most expensive perfume. It is priced at $1,295,000 for three litres of perfume. It comes in an Italian Murano crystal bottle which is adorned with horses, roses and a globe and Fontaine’s 3,571 diamonds – 38.55 in total, giant pearls and 2.5kg of 18 carat gold and 5.9kg of silver. Only one piece of this one off perfume has been made and nobody knows if anyone has bought it yet.
Widian – UAE
A relatively new entrant to the luxury niche middle east perfumery scene with beautiful, yet simple packaging. The motto of the owner is ‘If you like it, wear it’, which stems from a middle eastern belief that there is no such thing as a male or female fragrance. Widian perfumes are a mix of Eastern and Western influences.
Online sales penetration is still quite low in the Gulf region compared to Western markets. Hence the retail experience for luxury Middle Eastern perfumes is vitally important. Clients want to try and experiment a lot before they buy, so the new small luxury boutiques which are setting up shop in areas heavily populated by local arabs are very important to drive sales.
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