AROMAS OF ARABIA
Lootah Perfumes creates evocative scents using traditional Arabian fragrances and age-old methods
Dubai’s shopping malls are renowned for their range of international brands, but when it comes to perfume, a home-grown product holds pride of place. When Saleh Bin Nasser Bin Lootah made its first scents in the 1950s, he had no thoughts of creating a commercial enterprise. “It was more for gifting to friends and relatives on anniversaries, wedding days and other special occasions,” says General Manager Yaser Daadouch.
This is how Lootah became a leading perfumery giant in the United Arab Emirates and a creator of the finest oriental and French perfumes, incenses, fragrant oud, perfumed blended oils and agarwood. The brand’s wealth of perfume knowledge generates remarkable fragrances to enchant the senses from the grandfather.
Shoppers in the UAE were entranced by the idea of a scent that draws on Emirati culture. “Scents are essential in Emirati culture,” says Yaser. “Emiratis still trust the way their mothers and grandparents prepare it. They believe that this is related to their history and their heritage.” The ingredients reflect this Emirati brand’s indigenous identity, which marries minimalist design with age-old methods of production. Customers recognize the traditional methods used to make bukhoor – wood chips soaked in fragrant oils – with the same amounts of fragrance added and pieces cut to a certain size. Many of the ingredients are sourced by the owner’s own mother, maintaining the family focus of the business.
It’s rare for a big Emirati family to put its name to a commercial enterprise in this industry and doing so inspires faith in the products it creates. “The community here is small and any mistakes would reflect on the family, as well as the brand,” says Yaser. “We inspire confidence and trust; the people who buy these perfumes and incenses really care about quality.”
Key to the brand’s success is the purity of its ingredients, including oud, rose, musk, frankincense and amber. While the majority of its shoppers are women, Lootah Perfumes’ scents have a unisex appeal, with a range of prices that make them accessible to a diverse clientele, from members of the royal family to young people in their early twenties.
At present, the brand has 21 shops and kiosks across the UAE, Bahrain and Oman, with plans to open soon in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. It introduced the Pearl Collection perfumes, Jiwan and Mabe, recently, which look back on an era in the region’s history when divers scoured the seabed for oysters, often with just a nose clip and a bag to assist them in the perilous pursuit. The Arabian coast produced the world’s best pearls, a heritage that these new scents capture with evocative notes of jasmine and citrus, balanced with bergamot, pepper and vanilla. Like many of Lootah’s recent lines, these fragrances target modern shoppers while gesturing towards the past.
“These trends are increasingly prevalent throughout the perfume industry,” says Yaser. “Even Western brands are moving towards oud and oriental smells. They create an air of the mysterious, of warmth and of looking back through history to days of luxury and wealth. These are the scents you imagine people living in palaces would wear.”
Building on a family business that’s more than half a century old – and a heritage that dates back centuries – Lootah Perfumes is already at the forefront of this trend with evocative scents that conjure up the splendour of bygone eras for contemporary shoppers, who are also on the lookout for something unique.