x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Wanted: the first Emirati perfumer

The successful candidate will spend time at Firmenich's headquarters in Switzerland and in other countries such as the United States and Japan learning from different perfumers.

A perfumer has to memorise the scents of up to 3,000 raw materials.
A perfumer has to memorise the scents of up to 3,000 raw materials.

DUBAI // Calling all Emiratis who know a good thing when they smell it: you might be the person Firmenich is looking for.

The company responsible for creating some of the world's most coveted scents is hoping to tap into the Emirati passion for fragrance by recruiting and training the nation's first modern professional perfumer.

Firmenich, that has a laboratory at the DuBiotech Life Sciences Park, has started visiting university science departments in search of the most suitable candidate. Whoever is chosen will have to complete a gruelling 10-year training process and spend long spells living abroad.

"We are thinking of recruiting a perfumer from the GCC countries: an Emirati perfumer, a Saudi perfumer or an Omani perfumer," said Firmenich general manager Louis Lecoeur. "We want someone with the culture of oils and fragrances who we could train to follow the practices of perfumers today."

The successful candidate will spend time at Firmenich's headquarters in Switzerland and in other countries such as the United States and Japan learning from different perfumers.

"The chosen person would bring his culture and history," said Mr Lecoeur. "An Emirati would be great; it would be unique in the world of perfumery."

One of the reasons the training takes so long is because a perfumer has to memorise the scents of up to 3,000 raw materials.

"It would have to be a person who would not regret that they have left their country," said Hamid Merati-Kashani, Firmenich's perfumer. "I know how it is being far away from the family; sometimes it's not easy.

"It would be nice to have someone who knows the area but also wants to travel, because when they start their training this person will have to move to the US or Europe and come back after maybe 10 years."

Once the 10 years have passed the person chosen will join a select group, as there are only between 300 and 400 perfumers worldwide.

Some earn high salaries, but this depends on how many of the scents they create are selected to go on the market.

Firmenich has confidentiality agreements preventing them from naming their clients, but some of the world's top fashion houses have bought the scents they formulate.

"We would like to find the right person who would be trained as a real perfumer and be able to create perfumes based on that unique culture of perfume that every Emirati has," said Mr Lecoeur.

"Whoever is chosen will be continuing a long tradition in the region. The ancient Egyptians invented the art of making perfumes and the Arabs later helped perfect it. The use of perfume dates back to the earliest days of Islam and is considered a religious duty."

Fashion designer Leila Al Marashi, who shares her fellow Emiratis' love of scents, believes a perfumer from the UAE would have a special understanding of the needs of customers here.

"A perfume developed by an Emirati would appeal to me, for sure," she said.

"It's a really good idea. Emiratis mix up scents together to achieve a long-lasting effect.

"The abaya, because it's black and the type of fabric it is, absorbs part of the scent when you walk outside to your car because of the heat. So it's important to make sure that the fragrance is long-lasting when you go out.

"It doesn't want to be overbearing, or someone smells you miles away, but you want it to last for most of the day."

csimpson@thenational.ae