Gulf perfumers smell opportunity in local, global markets
By Martina Fuchs and Rachna Uppal
DUBAI (Reuters) - Walk through any of Dubai's immaculate, air-conditioned shopping malls, and the scent of spicy perfume becomes an integral part of the shopping experience.
From boutiques to sales clerks offering samples, there's no shortage of fragrances lingering in the air, part of a tradition dating back thousands of years.
"I don't count the layers my wife puts on every day, but her smell always blows me away," says Mustafa al-Muhana, a Saudi Arabian visitor to one of the specialist perfume stores.
Per capita consumption of perfumes in the Gulf region is among the highest in the world. Men and women equally enjoy applying layer upon layer of scents which linger long after the wearer has disappeared from sight.
"If a perfume doesn't leave a trail, it's not good enough," says Abdulla Ajmal, deputy general manager at Ajmal Perfumes, a United Arab Emirates-based fragrance manufacturer.
That belief is providing healthy sales for foreign makers of perfumes in the Gulf and also supporting a growing fragrance manufacturing industry within the region, which is struggling to diversify away from its traditional reliance on energy exports.
Saudi Arabia is the Gulf's largest regional market for fragrances, accounting for $827.5 million last year; the UAE was in second place with $205.8 million, according to consumer research firm Euromonitor International. By 2014, it expects fragrance sales to have grown 14.4 percent in Saudi Arabia and 16.5 percent in the UAE.
Some predict even faster growth because of tourism and business travel to the region, in addition to rising competition as an increasing number of international players move into the Middle Eastern fragrance market, including Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Guerlain. Continued...