Mission to Oman’s treasure: Amouage

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1st of August found me in the most exotic, beautiful and less advertised country of the Arabian Gulf, Oman. Despite the little time I had in my possession to explore Arabia’s, Africa’s and India’s crossroad, Muscat, I made sure to include first in my scheduale –for my nose and your eyes only- a name synonymous to Oman: the headquarters of the House of Amouage.

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Amouage in Arabic means waves. Amouage in Perfumery means the waves of emotions. Ever since 1983, when the Perfume House was founded by His Highness Sayed Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi, a senior member of the Omani Royal family and established by Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Amouage is inspiring and crafting exceptional fragrances in regal quality.

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At the moment Amouage operates three major global offices, in Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia, Muscat- Oman and London- United Kingdom and three sales offices in Dubai –UAE, Riyadh- Saudi Arabia and Doha- Qatar. Behind the wheel we find Mr. David Crickmore as CEO and Mr. Cristopher Chong as Creative Director for the company.

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The Initial Tour

At first, an Omani Mademoiselle named Ameerah toured me around the raw ingredients organ and got me to know all about Amouage’s fleet.

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Raw materials

Sourcing materials for Amouage is an exclusively French job. French buyers have undertaken the responsibility of tracking and buying raw materials for the House, which uses more than 120 natural ingredients.

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Frankincense is one of the most commonly used materials in Amouage’s fragrances. Our French friends buy the resin from Salalah, which has a rich incense trading history since 13th century. There is the house of the most rare and purest species of all kinds of olibanium. Frankincense is not only a common ingredient to use in perfumes, but also to burn in bukhoor for houses and several religious activities.

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Myrrh and Roses are also widely used in Amouage perfumes and they are being sourced from Oman’s Jebel Akhdar area. More specifically, the essence of the rare, Omani rock rose – a flower found across Jebel Akhdar’s mountain range- is used in “Gold”.

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The bottles

Omani as it is, Amouage wanted to provide a tangible memory along with its Arabic “flavour”. The bottles and caps reminisce familiar Omani symbols: men fragrances the shape of Khanjar, the traditional Omani dagger and women fragrances the dome and shape of Ruwi mosque, in Muscat.

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Timeline of existing perfumes

1983

Amouage’s first launch came in 1983 and was “Gold”, an ultra sexy, very long lasting and timeless scent for women, by well-known perfumer Guy Robert. That very first juice was hosted in pure French crystal bottle, which was dressed in 24-carat gold plated decorations.

90’s

1995: Amouage launched “Ubar” commemorating the lost city of Ubar, near Salalah, in Oman.

1998: Gold’s male pair was created 15 years after, by Guy himself with only two extra notes: oakmoss and patchouli.

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00’s

2002: -the floral, aldehydic and matching with Gold, “Dia” (female and male versions).

– “Silver” for men.

2003: the cool, fresh and full of gardenia “Ciel” (female and male versions).

2007:

-The sharp, green or powdery (men’s), light floral “Reflection” (female and male versions).

-“Jubilation 25” for women and “Jubilation XXV” for men. This is the turning point in Amouage’s creations as it is the mark of the beginning of storylines for future launches and Christopher Chong’s undertaking of duties as Creative Director. Jubilation was created in honour of Amouage’s 25 years of existence.

2008: “Lyric” (female and male versions). Lyric is full of roses in both versions and “tells” the story of lyric music. Lyric is also a direct implication to Mr. Chong’s past as a Baritone.

2009: “Epic” (female and male versions).  Epic is such a theatrical and unique scent! Epic creations celebrate the legendary trade routes of Silk Road, from China to Arabia.

2010’s

2010: my favourite “Memoir” (female and male versions).  . The perfumes celebrate the black swan story and the endless dramatic narratives of woman and man chronicles.

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2011: “Honour” was created to honour the tragic story of Madame Butterfly. (female and male versions).

2012:

-“Beloved” for women, my second favourite from this line of Amouage.

-“Interlude” (female and male versions), came giving a symbolic meaning to humanity. Interlude is another indirect reference to Mr. Chong’s Lyric past and a direct reference to what the world’s needs: a break from all this destruction and misery.

2013:

-“Fate” (amazing female and male versions).  Fate is the swan song of Amouage’s storylines and the call to take our lives in our hands and strive for the best with whatever means we have.

-Beloved for men.

The Library Collection

In 2010, Amouage introduced us the “Library Collection”. It is a line with a sense of exclusivity and I dare to say, deeper, challenging and more complex scents, for demanding noses. The library collection is Mr. Chong’s personal bet and has hosted different Perfumers for each creation. Opus I to IV, were launched all in 2010. Since then Amouage releases one Opus per year. 17

50% of Opus IV global sales go to the National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program (NAP) in Oman, an initiative supported by the Ministry of Health, World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund and United Nations Population Fund.

Opus III and Opus IV drive me nuts! Opus III has a light flowery scent and it strongly reminds me of Guerlain’s Insolence, when the middle notes are in charge. On the other hand, Opus IV has a magical, authentic olibanium scent. I appreciate Opus II and Opus VI as well. The first evolves into a crispy, yet spicy beautiful aroma and the second, smells mostly of oud.

The Factory

Menjie, Sales Associate and Amouage connoisseur for more than 10 years toured me around the manufacturing area and the gift shop.

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On the left you can see the Initial Perfume Organ, that was used during the first years of Amouage.

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Enfleurage. This is an initial, traditional process, during which flowers and plants are placed on odourless vegetable fat (3 tones each time) in room temperature, to capture the fragrant compounds. Absolute is a product of enfleurage.

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Distillation process involves strictly petals and water.

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Chilling machine contains 22% of concentrate.

In 1983, Amouage had only 6 tanks in possession to make only its 4 different kinds of perfumes. It is significant that all filling was done manually.

Today, the perfumes are created in Grasse, France and spend the last process of manufacture (the maceration) and bottling in Amouage’s factory in Oman. Maceration lasts from 6 to 8 weeks.

Production

Amouage produces maximum 2500-3000 bottles daily. Depending on the demand, the production can reach 5000-10000 bottles daily.

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Absolutes and perfumes are being bottled and packaged in Oman, while creams, soaps and lotions in France.

The gift shop

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Leather goods

Impressively, Amouage sells outstanding leather goods as well. Leather is Italian cow skin and the goods are made in Italy. In particular, Amouage’s leather goods are made in the same factory that produces the Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo products.

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My Shopping

Shopping in Amouage factory was an undoubtedly pleasant experience, thinking of all the variety, benefit of playing around endlessly, Menjie’s helpful assistance and a complimentary 10% discount one has at the end of the day! Keep at the back of your mind though that Amouage’s corner shop at Omani Airport offers an even greater discount. My shopping costed originally 73 Omani Riyals. After discount I paid 65 O.R. and I received plenty of Amouage perfumes samples, which I will review soon.

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I bought the “Dia” super luxurious, perfumed cream in jar for my mum, which she adores using since 2009. It smells exactly like Dia for women and it has great longevity. It also compliments perfectly her beloved perfume, Coco Chanel. Original price was 38 O.R.

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For myself, I got the Memoir perfume in solid wax. I wear it for over a month now and I am totally happy with its scent, even though its sillage and longevity are pretty weak. I use it to refresh throughout the day- something like a scent booster! Original price was 35 O.R.

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The factory is located in Muscat’s Al Seeb area, near to the airport. Below you can have a look at the map and driving instructions, provided to me by the company.

Amouage location map

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Amouage’s corner shop at Oman’s Al Seeb airport

Wrapping up my experience I can only confirm of what I saw and sniffed:

Amouage IS the gift of kings!
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