Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Arab perfumes for a change

Arab perfumes for a change
THERE is nothing like a whiff of perfume to salve the tired soul, so Raghda Emad, 19, of Oud Al Anood (“The House of Good Smells”, in Arabic), believes.
“Arab people like to smell good,” says Raghda.
Raghda, an Iraqi who came to Malaysia when she was just three years old, says her family’s love affair with perfumes started nine years ago when her father, Emad Abdul Razak, 48, a former ship captain, decided to open a perfume factory in Kajang nine years ago. Today, the family-run business has four retail outlets.

A good wood perfume is black. “My father is the nose for Oud Al Anood. He spent three years searching for fragrant wood in South-East Asia and experimenting with perfumemaking in our home kitchen.
Even before that, everyone in my family was into perfumes.
“My mother always wore a flowery scent called Amirah, which means “princess” in Arabic, while my father prefers the strong smells of fragrant wood. For me, it’s the soft smells of vanilla,” she says.
The young perfumer’s training in the trade began when she started helping out in her father’s factory at age 14.

Elaborate perfume bottles.“I had to open each and every bottle and sniff the contents. Perfume comes in three categories: strong, medium and soft. The strong smells are usually from wood like gaharu, while the mediums are from flowers like rose and jasmine. Vanilla is one example of a soft smell,” she explains.
The shop carries 50 types of scents.
“Everything we use in our perfume oils is natural. There is no alcohol, which means that Muslims can use them during their prayers.”
According to Raghda, they carry two types of perfumes: wood oils and perfume blends of flowers and spices.
“All the wood oils are processed in our factory. The process requires cooking the wood to extract the oil. You can tell a good wood perfume by its colour, which should be black. They are so thick that it is impossible to put them in spray bottles.
“There is no such thing as a good wood oil going bad as they have no expiry date. In fact, the longer you keep it, the better.

Arabian favourites include canned sheep head, brains and feet, and non-alcoholic beer. — Starpix by SAMUEL ONG & GLENN GUANWe have a 12ml bottle of 20-year-old wood oil worth RM3,000,” she says.
Raghda says chemically made perfumes have a distinct smell of alcohol and don’t usually last. Some people are allergic to them.
“A good perfume, when applied properly can, last a whole day. Even if you were to dab a little behind your ears, it should carry you through for at least four hours,” she claims.
Oud Al Anood is just next to Hotel Malaysia in Jalan Bukit Bintang. For enquiries, call 012-2154601 (Emad Abdul Razak). Prices start at RM30.
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