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Perfume Growth in Middle East Markets

Updated on February 20, 2012

There's been lots of news in the past few months about the expanding perfume market throughout the Middle East. Loads of fragrance companies are finding new ways to meet the rising demands by creating low-end perfumes, tapping into aromatic oils, and expanding their Middle East based companies into western markets.

Perfume oils in Jordan (Courtesy of Getty Images)
Perfume oils in Jordan (Courtesy of Getty Images)
Burgeoning perfume industry hits jackpot in Middle East
Burgeoning perfume industry hits jackpot in Middle East

Top Regional Perfumes

In 2006, analysts predicted that the Middle East and Africa would grow to become the biggest fragrance markets. South Africa, Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia were selected by analysts to experience the brunt of this success. Now in 2009, those economic predications ring true and by 2012 analysts foresee that the fragrance market will have expanded worldwide by $33 billion, with the Middle East seeing most of this development.

While Asian markets favor softer floral and citrus perfumes, consumers in the Middle East covet precious aromatic oils derived from oud (also known as aoud, oudh, and agarwood), sandalwood and amber. Those market preferences are quite the opposite of what you see in the U.S., where body mists, lighter aromatic oils and moderate perfumes are really popular.

Ajmal perfume shop in Dubai
Ajmal perfume shop in Dubai

Reasons for Perfume Growth

As the luxury markets throughout Europe and U.S. stagnate, the recession hasn't quite hit countries like Brazil, China and those in the MIddle East. As a result, luxury companies are cashing in on these markets like never before. Paris-based Guerlain, one of the oldest perfumes houses, has branched out and discovered that the Middle East market is its 4th largest market and is indicating signs of growth.

And, of course, culturally perfumes are important luxury item in Arab cultures. So not only are western perfume companies expanding into Middle East's markets, but also homegrown luxury perfumers who know the market intimately are braving expansion.

Traditionally, perfumes are important in this region, so even if an economic recession were to hit hard, Middle East's perfume companies are confident of ongoing future success. Abdulla Ajmal, owner of Ajmal Perfumes, a Dubai-based luxury perfume company, says, "Culturally, perfumes are seen as a necessity so people would cut down on other expenditures." Nazir Ajaml, son of the owner, also adds, "Perfumes are non-essential items, so it will be easy to assume that the industry would suffer as a result. But the Middle East has a cultural requirement for perfumery and we continue to capitalize on that."

Ajmal's competitor Imran Falzani of Afnan perfumes also chimes in to add, "It has been an integral part of Arabic and Islamic culture to give two or three packets of the most expensive perfumes as gifts. During Eid, Ramadan and other special occasions giving expensive oud and amber perfumes is one of the local customs."

With such culturally important ties to perfumes, the Middle East shouldn't see a down-turn in its perfume market anytime soon!

Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, a daring sweet musk perfume
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, a daring sweet musk perfume
Yves Saint Laurent M7, a wearable agarwood cologne
Yves Saint Laurent M7, a wearable agarwood cologne
YSL Opium, a stellar amber perfume
YSL Opium, a stellar amber perfume

Middle East Perfume Favorites

Perfumes that are traditionally popular and well-coveted in the Middle East market are ouds, ambers, sandalwoods and musks.

While the Middle East sees a rise in the sales of aromatic oils, you can easily expect these to outdo their American counterparts in sillage. US aromatic oils boast notes like fruits, spices, florals, and other soft-toned fragrances. But markets in the Middle East favor deeper, stronger, silkier notes.

Oud is a growing trend in European niche perfume lines and this way lots of US consumers are getting exposed to these types of fragrances. Both Ormonde Jayne (London-based niche brand) and Montale (Paris-based niche line) have great oud based fragrances. Montale specifically carries a great starter oud perfume called White Aoud. This boasts extremely watered-down oud notes and rosey tones that appeal to western consumers. In the U.S., the most popular woody men's cologne that features agarwood (or oud) is M7 by Yves Saint Laurent. This cologne opens with a fresh bergamot note and settles into an ambery warm oud note.

Musk notes are another great trend in Middle East perfumery. Sarah Jessica Parker is one of the biggest fans of Egyptian musk, which is stronger and sweeter than most musks that can be found in the U.S. Her perfume Lovely incoporates a wearable version of this deep musk.

Amber, which is a very popular note in the Middle East perfume market, is also celebrated in many perfumes that are popular in the U.S. Perfumes that are categorized as "oriental". One of the best-selling amber perfumes is Yves Saint Laurent Opium.

Montale White Aoud, a soft rosey version of oud fragrances, and Black Aoud, a more potent oud perfume
Montale White Aoud, a soft rosey version of oud fragrances, and Black Aoud, a more potent oud perfume

As the perfume market grows in the Middle East and as companies expand outward, the traditional perfume tastes of the Middle East market will probably be affecting the world of perfumery. So these highly coveted, hard-to-find perfume notes will probably be making a come back soon! For those many fans of oriental amber perfumes, oud perfumes and musk perfumes, this is welcome news.

The perfumes listed above can be found on discount perfume retailers online.

Your Love for Oud

Have you tried oud, amber or musk perfumes?

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Your Thoughts on Global Perfume Development

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    • profile image

      yes i like oudh 

      5 years ago

      yes oudh

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • profile image

      hakeem ghulam mohy ud din 

      6 years ago

      i like oud

    • perfumelover profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      wow thanks for the trivia!

    • profile image

      javed shaikh 

      6 years ago

      ajmal means the gentelman a man on army a man on head man of man the best perfum which every made to any other company ajmal is that 1 no body can break the record of ajmal not even in dream

    • profile image

      Laila Abdul 

      8 years ago

      I'm an Arab women and perfur to use most of the perfumes from the middleast because they don't smell like American fragrances and they last much longer. Everytime I wear them people stop and ask me what I wear because its so different then what women wear in the U.S., and I love that abot the middle eastern perfumes:)


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