Abdulla Ajmal
Abdulla Ajmal, Deputy COO, Ajmal Perfumes Image Credit: Ajmal Perfumes

This is the 70th year for Ajmal Perfumes, tell us about the unique journey of the brand?

The story of Ajmal Perfumes began in the early 1950s, in Hojai, Assam. My grandfather late Haji Ajmal Ali, the founder of this brand, was a modest rice farmer who took up oud business purely for sustenance.

Oud oil is derived from the essence of agarwood (Aquilaria) trees. Late Haji Ajmal Ali left his hometown for Mumbai and worked in the early 1950s blending perfumes and trying to find the right mixture that would impress Arab traders who visited India’s Western shores. In 1951, he gave his family name to his product range. Ajmal in Arabic means “most beautiful” and it’s uncanny that we ended up in this industry that is a part of the beauty industry.

In 1976, Ajmal entered the Middle Eastern market by establishing its first outlet in Murshid Bazaar in Deira, and Ajmal was the first brand to launch Mukhallat fragrance. The popularity of the company’s fragrance business enlisted Ajmal among the top 40 Arabian brands by Forbes Arabia in 2011. Today, thanks to his vision and hard work, we are a global brand, with over 270 retail stores around the world. We export to about 45 countries and have relationships with many duty free stores and airlines around the world. My vision for Ajmal is to see it as a truly global brand.

How is Ajmal celebrating its 70th year, how has the UAE helped the brand grow?

When late Haji Ajmal Ali sent his son Fakhruddin Ajmal to Dubai, it was still in a nascent stage of development, but the Ajmal family believed in the vision of the rulers. They had faith that the UAE would develop tremendously and become an important place for trade. The growth of the Ajmal brand mirrors that of the UAE because it has grown with the emirates. The UAE has given us everything.

On account of the pandemic, we won’t have celebrations like we’ve done in the past. We have come out with a commemorative product — the 70th year Aristocrat Platinum Edition. Apart from that, there will be a lot of consumer-led promotions and activities throughout the year.

Why do fragrances make such a good gift during Ramadan?

Perfumes hold a lot a lot of importance in Islam. It is a part of the culture, which is why it’s an essential along with food, clothing and shelter. Religion has led to a culture and a culture has led to a practice, making it an excellent gift.

Whatever we go through, we, as people need bits of happiness. Fragrances are a category that help spread joy. If you gift one, as long as it is on the shelves, the memory of the person who has given it is alive an strong. There is nothing specific to gift during this period but we do gift boxes of all sorts. It’s all about your personal choices.

Why is home incense significant during Ramadan?

It’s very significant during this period because home fragrances are very important to Arabian culture. Oud and bakhoor hold a special place in Arab traditions. Walk into any home, especially during Ramadan, and one is welcomed with the scent of burning oud throughout the house. It’s not uncommon to burn a bit of bakhoor in cars or even offices. People consider it very important to not only perfume yourself, but also the environment. It has a calming effect and most importantly a sense of purity. Oud is the purest form of incense and so it’s most popular. Many of our products are renowned for home incenses, my top picks this season are Safwat Al Safa, Oudh Adhm, Oudh Nooh and the most admired by our khalijees consumers, Oudh Mubakhar. We recently launched Rey’ah Al Sab’a.

I wish everyone a blessed Ramadan Kareem and a healthy year ahead.