Brandan Pereira sniffed the perfumed end of a thin strip of paper. “Mmmm... this smells like oranges.” After inhaling deeply from a jar of coffee beans to counteract the orange scent, he moved on to take a whiff from another strip of paper. “This is my favourite – lavender,” the 20-yearold finance student at Middlesex University Dubai said.
Behind him Ahmad Nabeel Al Ansa, also 20, from Abu Dhabi gently waved a strip of scented paper under his nose. “Roses,’’ he declared. “Ah, I am transported to a garden full of flowers.”
Milling around in the large conference room of TheWestin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Brandan, Ahmad and 18 other potential ‘noses’ were sniffing and soaking in a heady mix of scents. Their dream – to smell their way to the title of the world’s first Young Perfumer.
The contest, run by UAE-based Ajmal Perfumes, was in its second leg. On this warm Saturday morning these shortlisted participants – 10 male and 10 female chosen from 2,527 contestants – assembled for a training session. They would have a theory class on perfume production where industry professionals would teach them the intricacies of perfume-making and ‘coach their noses’ to initiate a discovery of aromas before they prepared for the final event, which will take place today, when the 20 finalists will be given 60 minutes to create their own perfume based on a fragrance theme.
A panel of judges including Laila Suhail, CEO, Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment, film director Ali F Mostafa, Friday editor Karen Pasquali Jones and Abdulla Ajmal, general manager of Ajmal Perfumes, will decide on the winner, who will take home a cash prize of Dh45,000 and bag an internship with Swiss perfume manufacturer and contest partner Firmenich. The second-prize winner will receive Dh35,000, the third Dh30,000 and the fourth and fifth winners Dh7,500 each. But nobody goes home empty handed, with the remaining 15 getting Dh2,500 each. “This is a perfect opportunity for the ideal candidate to craft the next youth perfume by Ajmal,” says Abdulla. “Through the contest we also want the youth to feel empowered and steer them towards a rewarding career in