The winner by a nose!
An 18-year-old Lebanese student sniffs his way to becoming the world’s first young perfumer and walks away with prize money of Dh45,000 from Ajmal Perfumes, reports Tessy Koshy
Wow,” Jihad Badran shouts aloud as the master of ceremonies calls out his name. Shaking his head in disbelief, the 18-year-old Lebanese student from Amity University, Dubai, jumps up from his seat.
In a black suit, his hair neatly gelled, he looks dapper as he races to the stage. “Unbelievable,” he says. “I just cannot believe it.” It’s only when a trophy and a giant cheque for Dh25,000 are handed to him in front of a bank of photographers and media, that Jihad finally realises he’s beaten 19 fellow contestants to create a unique fragrance that wowed an elite panel of six judges and earned him the title of the world’s first ever Young Perfumer.
The glamorous ballroom of TheWestin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, Dubai, comes alive with thunderous applause as Jihad stands, his trophy held aloft, next to Hamad Bin Sougat, the chief guest at the event. Amiruddin Ajmal, CEO of Ajmal Group, also congratulated the winner. It was a befitting finale to the contest, run by UAE-based Ajmal Perfumes, that went through two stages of elimination and a day of training. It saw 2,527 students from 40 universities across the UAE participate. On the final day 20 contestants were given 60 minutes to create a fragrance representing a French mukhallat with 16 ingredients.
Besides the young perfumer title and the cheque, Jihad will get a three-month internship with Swiss perfume manufacturer and contest partner Firmenich, an additional Dh20,000 and the thrill of seeing his perfume concoction marketed by Ajmal.
So what was his winning formula? “I made four trials tonight and decided to submit the fourth one. It was a chypre-based fragrance with bergamonte and shamama, among other scents,” reveals Jihad.
The judges were unanimous in choosing Jihad’s creation as the winner. “It was a collective decision by all the judges about