The evocative oud is a celebrity in the fragrance world
In the perfume industry they call it 'black gold', its usage first mentioned around 1500 BCE in ancient Sanskrit texts. Today, most perfume houses include oud in their collections due to its high desirability among perfume lovers in both the Arabian and the Western worlds. We spoke to Christopher Chong, the Creative Director of the celebrated Middle Eastern perfume house Amouage, who is the expert on this scent. Here’s how to wear oud, where to buy it and what to look for.
What is the Arabian connection to oud?
In the eighth century, oud became the most desired ingredient in the Middle East as it came from the most expensive woods in the world, the agar (aquilaria) tree. Rooted in the culture of the East, oud is highly valued for its unique and sensual aroma. Meditating, creating harmony and balance, healing and permeating garments and houses were some of the few usages of this jewel.
What are the signs of a quality oud?
As not many people have the chance to smell the genuine one, many people think real oud is fake, and vice versa. Almost all the oud fragrances in the mainstream market are synthetic. Real oud is not what you expect, as it is smooth and warm without any of the crude dry wood and smokiness we often smell in the synthetic. Genuine oud has a warm undertone to it with a smooth transcendence of leather and animalic notes.
What is a good fragrance to introduce to oud notes?
By Terry’s Terryfic Oud fragrance is one of the very few in the more mainstream market that uses genuine oud and is not too hardcore.
Can oud be worn by both men and women?
Of course. Ingredients don’t have genders and don’t discriminate.
Any tips for wearing oud?
Just a drop or two of oud mixed with your favourite fragrance will give a multi-dimensional sensory effect.
What other fragrance notes are complementary to oud?
White floral, rose, spices and leather are amazing together with oud. Neela Vermeire’s scents, Trayee and Mohur, are excellent examples of how oud blends perfectly with popular ingredients. Trayee and Mohur can both be experienced in Plethora Perfume Lounge (The Dubai Mall, +971 4 388 2990).
Where in Dubai do you recommend visiting to sample ouds?
Good places to sample a true oud are Ajmal (Burjuman Center, +971 4 351 5505) and Arabian Oud (Wafi Mall, +971 4 324 4117)
What oud-based fragrance would you recommend for gift-giving?
Amouage Opus X from The Library Collection. It's blended with artistry, combining the most classic fragrance ingredient, the rose, with the rare and precious oud sourced from Laos. Due to its purity, it's known as the king of all ouds. You could experience this wonderful blend and other fragrances in Dubai's three Amouage Boutiques (Dubai Festival City, +971 4 255 9531; The Dubai Mall, +971 4 330 8184; Wafi Mall, +971 4 324 3135)
Learn more about Dubai's olfactory history at the Perfume House in Al Shindagha Museum, tour the city's iconic perfume souk, and find out more about oud and bakhoor.