“It’s an amazing transformation,” says Shahzad Haider, chairman of The Fragrance Foundation Arabia, reflecting on the rapid evolution of the Middle Eastern fragrance market over the last five years. Indeed, the winners of the organization’s 2014 awards underscore this shift, featuring a dynamic mix of multinational and regional brands.
Fragrance sales in the Middle East and North Africa totaled $2.9 billion in 2013, according to a recent Euromonitor report. The annual fragrance spend for the region is $8.80 per capita, compared to $6.80 per capita worldwide.
Euromonitor noted that Saudi Arabia was the single largest fragrance consumer in the region in 2013, with 13% growth aided by a 2012 fatwa that declared that Muslims could ethically use alcohol-based fragrances. The Saudi results are also helped by the nation’s high urbanization and status as a regional tourist draw. The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, experienced 7% growth in the fragrance market, boosted by “a favorable economic climate with rapid investment in infrastructure, including upmarket shopping malls,” according to Euromonitor. The Emirates benefits from foreigners who purchase fine fragrances when visiting.