Oudh: Future Perfect

Oudh has moved out of the realms of the Arabian lands, but will it join the league of celebrated fragrances of the West in the near future? In the concluding feature of the four part series on oudh, Abdulla Ajmal shares his views

While oudh has been a part of the Arabian perfumery for centuries now, the West has only recently awoken to its myriad pleasures. This has naturally opened up new frontiers, when it comes to the future of oudh. With an increasing number of international perfumers acknowledging the potential of this ingredient, it would be safe to assume that perfume community is going through the ‘oudh mania’ phase.Local players like Ajmal Perfumes have handled oudh as a fragrance by itself and as an ingredient of a composition in several types of perfumes, for more than 50 years. However, the international brands are still new to the various facets of oudh.

International brands vs. local options

There are many international brands that come to the region and claim to use oudh in their fragrances. But, not all of them are actually using the ingredient. There are many that use the word oudh merely as a marketing nomenclature, simply to define the Arabic preferences in the region. On the other hand, the local players have a different perspective. Unlike when oudh is used as a concentrated oil or a diluted EDP, the fragrances in which oudh has been used as one of the many ingredients in a composition, should not be labeled as oudh perfumes.

Usage of oudh in perfumery

There are four different ways in which oudh can be used in perfumery. First is when it is used as a concentrated extracted oil directly on the skin. The second format is when this oil is diluted using alcohol and water to create an eau de parfum.  The third format is when oudh is used as one of the ingredients in the composition and the fourth one is when it is used as a mere marketing nomenclature. The third and fourth format is how quite a few international brands are using oudh in their perfumes. With the popularity of oudh constantly evolving, it remains to be seen how far and how well will the international community be able to adapt to using its several formats.


Changing perception of oudh

As of now, oudh is trending and international brands are successfully riding the wave. But, in the past, the usage of oudh was fairly restricted to the Middle East and some surrounding countries. This trend has undergone a massive change as the participation of international brands in the ‘oudh mania’ has increased the awareness across the globe and therefore added to the exposure as well. In the future, this trend is expected to create a bigger gamut of prospective customers which will be beneficial for the local players as well as the international brands.

Sustainability of oudh

An important subject concerning the future of oudh is the sustainability of its precious resource. Several international brands have raised questions regarding the sustainability of oudh casting a shadow of doubt on its future. On the other hand, we at Ajmal, where the leadership comes from a farming background, understand the importance of maintaining the environmental balance while harvesting oudh for perfumery. We have already initiated efforts in this direction and have more than a million trees in their oudh plantation indicating there is a sufficient supply for the future generations.