THANKS TO SAUDI ENTREPRENEUR SYED AL ABBAS, THE SCENT OF WAX OUD IS BIG BUSINESS ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST
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.
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.”
Syed Al Abbas, owner of Aoud Gallery, fills pots of wax perfume at his stall at Global Village.