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Saudi Arabia’s passion for perfume


As the International Group of Luxury Fragrances launches in Dubai, Nabil Zaibak, general manager at Radwa Trading, talks about the initiative and the Kingdom’s fragrance market.

Where did the IGLF initiative come from?
After several studies on the Saudi perfume market, we noticed that the market is split into two categories: Oriental (accounting for 55 per cent of the market) and Western fragrances (45 per cent). We dominate half of the Saudi market and that is what triggered the idea to create a platform promoting Western fragrances. The goal of this initiative is solely to promote Western fragrances in Saudi Arabia.

How difficult is it to promote Western perfumes in Saudi Arabia?
For Saudi consumers, Western fragrances are not long lasting, sometimes too light and are sold in classic bottles. Oriental fragrances are considered enduring, strong and original, and that is why the majority of consumers in the country opts for this type of perfumes. To change things, everyone has to be involved, from brands to distributors and retailers. Western brands are starting to produce oud-based perfumes for the Saudi Market and the GCC in general. That is a big step.

What is unique about the Saudi market when it comes to fragrances?
The Saudi market is indeed unique, consumers here love fragrances. Perfumes are linked to history and tradition. Saudi consumers have a sharp nose and are very clever when it comes to choosing a perfume; they can differentiate types of oud just by smelling them. What is really unique about this market is the widespread use of the layering technique where consumers create their own perfumes by mixing different fragrances, usually with an oud base topped with Western fragrances.

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