Tart Masculinity from Saudi Arabia!
Who says Arabian men only like their perfume amiable, sweet and flowery? With Arooq Al Oud the brand Al Rehab shows us a different way. Arooq Al Oud does completely without any recognizable florals or citric notes - and so it is something special! I do not know many ouds without flowers among the fancy western releases. Only two: Pure Oud of by Kilian – which I do not like that much – and the very expensive (520 €!) and also extreme Intricate by Boadicea the Victorious.
So, Arooq Al Oud is really masculine, maybe not a Charles Bronson, but let's say – Omar Sharif type of fragrance. It is woody and tart, but not unbalanced. Unfortunately, Al Rehab has not released the scent pyramid, so I rely on my own nose. Besides the oud, I smell a decent amount of amber – but not the dry, pale stuff which is the discreet and boring background of so many western perfumes. The note “Amber” as I have found it in traditional Arabian perfumes relates to a much bigger extent to the imaginations I have about burnt natural amber resin. In extreme cases, this can be as smoky as a decent, heavily smoked German Schwarzwälder Schinken (Blackforrest Ham). This may not bother people from Arabia where smoked pork is not eaten – but it is the reason why I dislike i.e. By Kilians attempt “Pure Oud”.
However, Arooq Al Oud integrates the amber note much better than the high-priced By Kilian fragrance. Here, the amber accompanies the Oud by adding just a slight smokiness – by far not as intrusive as to evoke those bacon and ham imaginations.
The third element in it is probably sandalwood. I think, behind this denomination there can be quite different possible ingredients. I guess it's something like Javanol, a rather tart variant of sandalwood. At least, I see a reminiscence to Montale's Amber & Spices or Greyland, where this kind of sandalwood is also included. And it is those two western “ouds” that with their tart and masculine appeal come closest to Arooq Al Oud so far. The sandal note is by the way the one that is still there when after many hours the rest is all gone. The longevity of Arooq Al Oud is sufficient – for a few hours, you have a beautiful accord of four notes. The fourth note is leather or something close to it.
The combination of all that has something of antique furniture, maybe the smell of horse stables and leather saddles – but all those imaginations do not really match. Anyway, the musty and fungus-like smell of oud is hard to come by with comparisons. You simply have to have your own experiences.
Arooq Al Oud starts as a powerhouse, but soon steps back into an altogether moderate sillage. I can wear it at the office, but I do get occasional positive comments.
Something is missing in Arooq Al Oud: it does not have this strange, not very beautiful “hairspray” note that you can find in the head of so many oud perfumes, i.e. most of the Montale ouds – which is good. And due to the missing florals and sweet notes, Arooq Al Oud is not at all overblown or fustian – which you can accuse of many other ouds.
Oud fragrances are hardly light, and Arooq Al Oud is no exception. Exclusive followers of aquatic or citric summer scents will not have much fun with it. But those who have a weakness for strong, tart and unsweetened gent's perfumes might like it. So, if Knize Ten, Terre d'Hermès, Antaeus or any leather chypre is in your collection, do not miss Arooq Al Oud!
Al Rehab is not a luxury brand. They sell every day fragrances that everybody can afford. To be honest, not all of their perfumes are recommendable. If you buy an Al Rehab fragrance, you should be aware that the European IFRA regulations are not valid in Saudi Arabia: no risk, no fun!
In my local Arab shop in Bonn I payed only 25 € (32 USD) for the 60 ml bottle of Arooq Al Oud. For this small money, you get a heavy glass flacon with a solid die-casting ornament with little glass slivers in it (almost Svarovski!). The cap has a bigger glass stone. This is simply a beautiful perfume bottle that one likes to touch. Great value for the money!
Arooq Al Oud is so far my favourite Arab perfume.