Genuine oriental perfumes: it’s amazing what you find online

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As a certified oak moss fiend, I was delighted to be told in a Facebook fragrant fiends group about a ‘very mossy’ fragrance called Saat Safa by Al Rehab. I set off to find out more about it and stumbled onto a world of inexpensive and interesting fragrances.

I googled Al Rehab fragrances, found them on Amazon and started checking out their range. This is a well-respected Saudi Arabian perfume company that uses natural essences – bells started ringing for me, as Amouage are the best-known Saudi Arabian perfumers and their fragrances are highly acclaimed and very expensive. So the thing that astonished me when I checked out Al Rehab was the prices. These perfumes mostly come in oil form, in order to be acceptable to observant Muslim customers, and they’re in handy little 6ml roll-ons. Most of them are two quid; that’s three bucks, or 2.3 Euro. We are talking really low prices here for perfume. But is it any good?

Well yes, it is. It’s really nice, actually (apologies Al Rehab for doubting you). I tried three perfume oils today: Classic, Al Sharquiah, and White Full Perfume, all from Al Rehab. These are genuine perfumes from the Orient – the Middle East – as opposed to European imaginings of what Oriental perfumes smell like, and not one is even a tiny bit like Shalimar or Opium. These are smooth, flowery and woody and smell very natural, although they are very linear and change little from opening to base. Speaking of bases, they last reasonably well on the skin – 4 or 5 hours – but at this price you can top up as often as you like.

Classic: this is my favourite of the three. It is relatively light and has a lemony floral opening that becomes a little rosier and sweeter with a gentle woody base that rails off into a pleasant and lasting skin musk. It lasts really well and the deep base reminds me of the musk in Lovely and Narciso Rodriguez ‘for Her’.

Al Sharquiah: more the kind of jammy rose with woody and incense notes that I expect from a middle-eastern-style attar. This is feminine and elegant without being overpowering or ‘shouty’. It’s a rich, slightly ‘cooked’ rose that stays sweet and the classic woody base might well include a little of the kind of frankincense that reminds me of old churches and cold stones.

White Full perfume: oh boy this is JASMINE! Very very jasmine, with perhaps a sprinkle of orange blossom. It’s not indolic, which is nice, but it’s rich rich rich and round and warm and JASMINE. Did I mention the jasmine? In the market in Cairo you can buy necklaces made of hundreds of jasmine blossoms threaded onto a cord. It smells amazing to wear the fresh blooms around your neck with their rich sweet scent wafting up in the evening’s heat as you sit on a terrace. That is the situation to wear this perfume in. On a chilly April day in Wales it doesn’t really work.

So there you have a trio of fragrances for under a tenner, including shipping. These are great fun and very cheerful scents to either throw in your handbag for daily use or for holidays. I think I may well go back and try a few more – Cherry Blossoms, Silver and Dehn Al-Oud all sound intriguing.

An interesting point is that because these fragrances are in oil form they should pass the UK Royal Mail’s new regulations on posting perfume internationally (just don’t do it – don’t even try, it’s too depressing to have a parcel opened and your perfume destroyed). At these prices I’m prepared to give it a try. I’ll let you know how it goes.

7 thoughts on “Genuine oriental perfumes: it’s amazing what you find online”

  1. Dear Iscent & Proxy
    Thank you.
    I have long harboured fantasies about trying out this manner of fragrant thing, but am always a little put off by my lack f knowledge… you have now shone a light into what was a dark corner of the scented world for me.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  2. I’m delighted to have been able to shine a light for you. I was similarly curious but baffled until I stumbled across this particular house, which seems better put-together than most of the miscellaneous Arabic oil vendors on ebay.
    If you are a lover of oakmoss, I definitely suggest to try their Saat Safa, as it’s a nice masculine – too butch for me, but I’ll be passing my vial on to IScent for her to try out on Mr Scent. Hopefully she’ll review it later.
    Best wishes,
    Wordbird

  3. A very overlooked area of fragrance. There are many great oils to explore. Two of my favourites are Noora and Zahra which can be found at http://perfume.zahras.com for $US15. This PDF based website is a challenge to navigate! Each pdf covers a different Arabian house. Swiss Arabian is great but there are any houses to explore. The bottles are often spectacular too. To avoid alcohol there are also oil-based interpretations of the blockbuster scents from the west. These are a delight. If you like a sample size then you can order a canister next time. I have vats. Some Muslims avoid alcohol in all forms. Others have no issues with alcohol-based perfumes as the reason for the prohibtion is to avoid intoxication by ingestion.

  4. I have and love Saat Safa. It is wonderful. I knew at first sniff that I would adore it. Beautiful.

  5. A new friend recommended Al-Rehab Sultan after I asked her what she was wearing for perfume. I am in love with Opium, that is until they had to change the formula! I was looking for something similar and was wondering if you came across any Al-Rehab that was close to Opium? I really like the Sultan but was hoping to find more scents in the oriental-ish range without guessing and/or crossing my fingers and picking another.

    1. Hello Ida, and welcome! You have given me an idea for a post. I’m thinking of doing a perfume agony aunt post. may I use your question? best wishes Sam xx

  6. What a good question! I’m a fellow vintage Opium fan and I despaired when they reformulated it. At least they had the decency to change the bottles, so we know which ones to avoid.
    I have yet to find a perfect duplicate, but I have enjoyed investigating the resins and balsams that delight us so much.

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