Per­fume king

THANKS TO SAUDI EN­TRE­PRE­NEUR SYED AL AB­BAS, THE SCENT OF WAX OUD IS BIG BUSI­NESS ACROSS THE MID­DLE EAST

Gulf News - - International - By Mo­ham­mad Ji­had

Big bowls. Big crys­tal bowls the size of soup tureens filled with soft, gem­coloured wax gel, cov­ered the length of the dis­play counter. First the colour, then the smell strikes you.

It was some­thing I’d never smelt be­fore. It felt like it would last for a long, long time.

Not a bad thing, con­sid­er­ing it was a store sell­ing a range of fra­grances from agar wood oil or oud.

The Aoud Gallery, lo­cated be­tween the Le­banon and Syria pav­il­ions in Global Vil­lage, draws vis­i­tors eas­ily, with its strik­ing scents that fill the air around the stall.

“Th­ese are made from oud, an Ara­bic per­fume, which women rub on their skin,” Mouaz Dendy said.

He is the man be­hind the counter, a red­head with an en- thu­si­as­tic smile, con­stantly ges­tic­u­lat­ing to­wards the yel­low, pink and green wax per­fumes.

NAT­U­RAL IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

Be­fore I could ask why it is wax-like and not liq­uid, Dendy said: “It’s an in­ven­tion by Syed Al Ab­bas, the owner of Aoud Gallery. He cre­ated it to make fra­grances in a new man­ner that are made from nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents.”

Al Ab­bas, a Saudi na­tional and en­tre­pre­neur, loves com­ing up with ideas and new prod­ucts. The fra­grances are all per­son­ally made by him and in­clude dozens of dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents, mak­ing them dis­tinc­tive.

He said: “I used to buy six of my favourite per­fumes and spray them on be­fore go­ing out.”

I asked if that would get him a bit of re­ac­tion from peo­ple.

Al Ab­bas was proud to say: “Ev­ery time I went out with my friends they asked me what per­fume I was wear­ing! I told them that it was some­thing I had mixed.”

Af­ter that they started ask­ing him to make per­fume mixes for them, too.

A busi­ness and ad­min­is­tra­tion de­gree stu­dent, Al Ab­bas de­cided it was time to turn his idea into a com­mer­cial ven­ture.

THE RICH AND FA­MOUS

Dur­ing the first nine years of Al Ab­bas’s ca­reer as a per­fumer, he made high qual­ity oud per­fumes for the rich and fa­mous in Saudi Ara­bia. He also cre­ated, and still does, per­son­alised fra­grances, upon re­quest, for cus­tomers who want a sig­na­ture scent.

One of his most com­pli­cated and favourite per­fumes is the Horse Rider. It com­prises more than 2,000 oils and took six months to cre­ate.

It is a pack of two per­fumes to be sprayed to­gether. The smell changes de­pend­ing on the num­ber of times you spray each per­fume.

Al Ab­bas said: “I am ex­tremely proud of this per­fume, as I was so fo­cused on it.” But, suc­cess as a per­fumer doesn’t come easy.

“Some­times I can sit in the lab­o­ra­tory ex­per­i­ment­ing for months and not come up with any­thing. And at other times, ev­ery­thing just comes to me.”

He is al­ways open to new and in­no­va­tive ways to pro­duce his prod­ucts. One of his in­ven­tions is the wax per­fume.

CRE­AT­ING WAX PER­FUME

“I was at a food event one day. I saw a ma­chine that turned milk into cream, and it hit me that I could make my per­fumes, which look and feel like that, so I got one and started ex­per­i­ment­ing,” Al Ab­bas said, while mix­ing the waxes.

His in­no­va­tion trav­els fur­ther with the per­fume foun­tain. “I saw one of those choco­late foun­tains and thought it would be a good idea to dis­play it as a per­fume foun­tain, where the smell would fill the shop.”

His cre­ations have be­come quite pop­u­lar not only within the Arab com­mu­ni­ties but also among Western­ers.

“Peo­ple come up to me from all over the world and buy bot­tles and bot­tles of per­fume to take home to their fam­i­lies and friends as gifts,” he said, while scoop­ing the per­fume wax into a con­tainer for a cus­tomer.

He al­ready has a few stores in Dubai and Saudi Ara­bia. Al Ab­bas said: “With the help of God, my busi­ness will ex­pand across the GCC coun­tries.

“I try to go the ex­tra mile — like giv­ing free ref ills and guar­an­tees. It’s not just a smell peo­ple buy. It’s their iden­tity, some­thing that will rep­re­sent them.”

VAZHISOJAN/GULF NEWS

Syed Al Ab­bas, owner of Aoud Gallery, fills pots of wax per­fume at his stall at Global Village.

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