The Abu Dhabi perfumer Suhail Al Hashmi will give a workshop on the secrets of perfume at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition on Friday afternoon at 4pm.
The art of layering fragrances is a popular Emirati tradition among both men and women who build signature bouquets by layering oils, scented wood chips called bukhoor, and oud, an aromatic resin from aquilaria trees.
Mr Al Hashmi will guide visitors in balancing scents, explain pricing and give an overview of the popular Gulf art. Under Mr Al Hashmi's guidance, participants will make their own perfume using traditional Arabic ingredients like oud, ambergris, musk, saffron and rose.
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“Overseas they rely on flowers more than anything but here we didn’t have flowers,” said Mr Al Hashmi. “It's all cultural. Even foreign brands use oud, amber and saffron now. They have come back to our fragrances. Gucci uses oud. Dior uses ambergris. In the end, it comes back to us.”
While Adihex is best known for firearm displays, camel auctions and falconry exhibitions, its perfume stalls do a steady business. Even on desert camping trips, men maintain pristine appearances. At the Al Dhafra Festival, a camel beauty competition with 250,000 camels on the edge of the Empty Quarter, there is a laundry mat so men can continue to look crisp as they camp in the desert.
Perfume stalls selling oud wood from Thailand, Indonesia and India were crowded at Adihex this year. That being said, Al Hashmi despairs that the younger generation prefer lighter European perfumes to strong Gulf fragrances.
“They need something different from overseas," he said. "So I’m trying to get that kind of smell and mix it with ours to win their approval.”
Mr Al Hashmi graduated as a chemical lab technician from Abu Dhabi Men’s college.
“It was my interest to work in a petroleum company," he said. "This was my goal but then, I don’t know what happened. Subhan Allah, I started this kind of business and I built my company.
“There is one guy called Al Mahmoud and he had a shop in Marina Mall. I was his customer. I told him I needed him to make me special perfume. He said, ‘you’re a chemical man, don’t you know how to make it yourself?' He said 'khalas, you don’t need me anymore’.”
Al Hashmi’s workshop will be held in the majlis area at 4pm on Friday. Adihex runs at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre until Saturday. Entry is Dh20.