What is Oud? In the Arab world OUD is an instrument refered to “the king of instruments”. It is derived from the Arabic for “the wood” and came to Europe through North Africa. It is considered to be the oldest musical instrument. It is a unique design and it is pear shaped like guitar. However there is a more valuable side to “oud’ and that is it’s ever so known popular scent and it is said to be the most expensive wood in the world. Oud oil is estimated to be one and half times the value of gold hence why it is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold”.
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I will never forget the first time I travelled to the Middle East and I would walk through the malls in Dubai and I could smell Oud (this was quite some time ago) and I would smell the scent of Oud and I recalling thinking “What is that?!” I went in search of the scent and I could not find it until one day I was back in Sydney I will never forget it was Friday the 25th of October 2013 and I was at one of my favourite places to eat “Sushi e” and I sat near two German tourists and every time I turned towards them I would smell the most amazing scent that totally reminded me of walking through the malls of Dubai. After an hour of torturing myself I had to ask what fragrance the gentleman next to me was wearing and he proudly said “It’s Acqua di Parma Oud” The very next day I went to David Jones (I guess best compared to Harrods) Sydney and I discovered the fragrance I had fallen in love with was going to set me back $350 but oh it was just divine! I decided against buying it there and then and sprayed it all over myself and the next time I visited David Jones and the time after that and the next ten times after that as well.
In January 2014 I went to Dubai and again I would walk through the malls and smell Oud. Oud Oud Oud was all I could smell and I was in love with this scent and I was bombarded with people trying to sell me Oud fragrance. But I knew what I wanted and it had to be something that made me feel the same way when I smelt the German tourist sitting next to me. Eventually I found it on my last night in Dubai I wanted to spend what Dirhans I had left. I walked into a perfumery and I asked if they had anything with Oud in it and I think I smelt at least 20 fragrances before I thought “I am never going to find this!” but I saw a fragrance which had not been presented to me and I read it, “Oud Malak” can I try this one I asked.
“No madam this one is not for sale it is a tester” I pleaded they let me try it and of course it was the scent I was after.
I pleaded with them to let me buy it as they didn’t have any in retail left and I was flying out the next morning. The sales assistant called their manager and asked if they could sell it and ended up getting it for an absolute bargain I will never forget for the 80 ml tester bottle which seemed to be rather full I paid a mere 185 Dirhams, I was prepared to pay more as I recalled how much the Acqua di Parma Oud was.
Whilst I spray fragrances on like I am showering in it I would spray this one like it was “liquid gold” when I went back to Sydney. Every time I wore Oud Malak people would ask me what fragrance I was wearing and I would tell them it was “Oud”. I tried to find it in Australia and of course couldn’t. By mid year I had finished my 80 ml bottle of Oud Malak but I kept it as empty as it was and I would inhale it on a regular basis waiting for my next trip to Dubai. Two years passed before I ended up living in the Middle East and when I eventually made it to Kuwait I worked for a company that sold it the joy on my face when I discovered I could now buy it as you could imagine I was beside myself but it wasn’t as cheap as I recalled but better priced than Acqua di Parma.
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Whilst I lived in Kuwait I would go to many places and I would smell different versions of oud and I loved buying the would itself and burning it at home especially before I had visitors. I would go to the malls and smell all the different fragrance houses that had a scent with oud and apart from Acqua di Parma I still love Oud Malak and I still get compliments when I wear it.
Now after my story about discovering and falling in love with Oud a few facts about it as it is so rare it is recreated as a synthetic note (the first fragrance to ever do this was Chanel No.5) there are 15 different types of species of this wood also known as “Agarwood, oudh, agalocha” it is also refered to as “heartwood” and primarily produced by trees in the genus Aquilaria the resin of this tree is known as agarwood, aloeswood, eaglewood, gaharu, agalocha or oudh. It has been described by the Chinese as “a sweet, deep but balanced fragrance” and it is used in religious and festive celebrations, also with Indian, Japanese and of course Arabs. Chinese doctors also used it for colds and digestion problems. But in the Arab world it’s scent is loved.
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These trees that produce this beautiful scent are at risk of fungal and bacterial attack. They become infected with a parasite mould which is affecting the supply of these trees even when the affected part of the tree is cut off. These trees whilst were initially found in very few countries they can now be found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Vietnam (this got me thinking since these places are so close to Australia I need to pay them a visit LOL). These trees grow from 6 to 20 meters, leaves are 5 to 11 cm long and 2 to 4 cm wide. The flowers are yellowish-green. There are 3 extraction methods, the older the tree the better the resin. A minimum of 20 kg of wood is needed to produce 12 ml of the oil. According to Nabeel Adam Ali the director of Swiss Arabian Perfumes believes that the best oud comes from trees that are more than 100 years old. Younger trees are still very sought after but don’t have the quality of the older trees. Fragrance houses are on the rise to cater for the Arabian market to meet the demand many perfumers have started to use a blend of natural and synthetic. Twenty years ago 1 kg of oud would cost approximately $500 US but now it’s $3300 (I wonder if we could invest in Oud!) It is becoming an endangered tree and it is known to be an aphrodisiac both in the form of oil and as incense.
So there you go from smelling oud from my first visit to Dubai, then on a German Tourist then living in the Middle East where all I could smell was Oud Oud Oud I still love this amazing scent and it has lead me to research everything about it and I think with all of the facts that I have learnt about “Oud” I am in love with it even more. So the next time you smell, spray or burn oud know that it is one of the most sought after scent in the world, it is unique and it took time to make it’s way to you! If you have not tried oud on yourself I highly recommend you do before it’s too late.
Sending you all much love with the scent of oud !
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