8 Exclusive Oud-Based Perfumes

Take home these Arabian scents designed exclusively for the Middle Eastern market.

Laura Sant
OF 9

Walking through the gold-leafed shopping malls, souqs, even the airport in Dubai, you will notice ethereal scents wafting around you: velvety rose, dark amber, pink peppercorn, delicate musk—an intoxicating, ever-changing, olfactory symphony. In this land of opulence and luxury, fine perfume is nothing short of an obsession.

Here, it’s a well-understood fact that balanced, elemental smells can intoxicate and seduce with greater power than even sight or touch. Throughout the Arabian Gulf both men and women have mastered the art of layering earthy, spicy, and sweet scents by perfuming their clothing and homes with smoke from bakhoor (agarwood chips soaked in perfume oil) and frankincense (the dried sap or resin of the Boswellia tree that produces a sweet aroma when burned). Luxurious lotions and oils scent the skin, and it’s all finished off with copious spritzes of luscious, high-end perfumes.

Most Arabian perfumes are unisex fragrances with a base of frankincense, a luxury product from the Arabian Gulf that’s been traded for over 5,000 years, and oud, an intensely earthy oil extracted from the noble rot of Southeast Asian Aquilaria trees. While pure oud can be a bit intense for Western tastes, which air on the lighter, fruitier side, when artfully blended, oud adds an “umami,” animalistic element to perfumes that can be incredibly sexy and exotic on both men and women. As luxury brands grow deeper roots in Middle Eastern shopping meccas like Dubai, perfumers have finally caught on; the past several years have seen new, heady fragrances—all incorporating these ultra-expensive and incredibly distinctive Middle Eastern ingredients—designed especially for the Arabian Gulf Market by everyone from Carolina Herrera to Armani. While some are available in flagship stores in New York and L.A., they are much more widely available in Dubai. Instead of just stopping to admire the indulgence, take it home with you by purchasing one of these eight exclusive fragrances—many of which you can only purchase in Dubai.