Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents

Oud is extracted during winter from trees aged between 70 and 150 years and growing up to 20 meters in height. (AN photo by Saad Al-Dossary)
Short Url
Updated 25 February 2021

Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents

RIYADH: The traditional scent of oud enjoys an enduring popularity among Saudis, but high prices and uncertainty about quality are making many think twice before buying it.

Oud is extracted during winter from trees aged between 70 and 150 years and growing up to 20 meters in height.

These trees generally grow in tropical areas in Asia, especially on mountains and hillsides in India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Gulf countries are the major importers of oud.

Wood oud emits an enjoyable fragrance when burned. Made of aromatic plants, wood oud has been increasingly mixed with aromatic oils in recent years. In Saudi Arabia, people often put wood oud in an electronic incense burner to deliver the desired fragrance.

Bader Al-Mansuri, a Saudi consumer, said that oud is an important tradition in Saudi society and is used for special social occasions as well as religious events, such as the Friday prayer.

Cambodian oud is the go-to option for most Saudis when shopping for the traditional fragrance, followed by the Morki and Kalamantan.

“My favorite is Cambodian oud, which I have been using for a long time,” Al-Mansuri told Arab News. “It’s part of our family tradition and culture, and my grandparents used it and passed it down to us. Oud has a positive moral impact, and is a sign of generosity and respect when you have visitors.”

Al-Mansuri that he only buys oud from well-known brands and companies.

Hammad Al-Shouraihi, another consumer, is a regular user of oud and buys 2 kg every year at a cost ranging from SR4,500 ($1,200) to SR6,000.

“When the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emerged, I bought oud off websites instead of going to incense shops,” he said, adding that it is difficult to judge the quality of oud bought online since the buyer cannot test the fragrance.

In addition to Cambodian oud, Al-Shouraihi also enjoys the Morki variety as well as other types with mixed substances.

“Vintage Cambodian oud, which is stored for longer periods, is the best. It is an ideal gift for friends or family members,” he said. “I love all perfumes that have oud fragrance or scent. The pandemic has affected oud purchases due to the way it is used and fears that it can transmit the virus.”

However, Ahmed Al-Mutairi believes the pandemic has had little impact on the oud industry.

He buys 100 gm of liquid oud and quarter a kilo of wood oud, paying about SR5,000 for his purchases every year.

“Some oud vendors on streets demand a high price, but they reduce the price to half after one bargains with them,” Al-Mutair told Arab News.

Hassan Al-Rashdi, a sales officer at Nada Oud Store, said that sales reach 5 kg  some days and 10 kg other days.

“Some people prefer different types of oud qualities,” he added, noting that a kilogram of oud can range between SR500-SR5,000, based on its quality and origin.

Al-Rashdi told Arab News that some Saudis prefer the Kalamantan variety. However, he believes Morki oud is the most popular incense for parties, official events and use in mosques.

Khalid Al-Johani, the owner of an online oud store, agrees that Morki oud is the most popular variety among his clients, followed by Kalamantan and Indian in terms of quality.

According to Al-Johani, Indian liquid oud is preferred by the elderly, though Thai oud is fast gaining in popularity.

“To judge the quality of oud, one should check the scent, weight, color and size,” he said.

“Most people buy oud based on the recommendations of others. But experts always check the quality of oud products inside out and ask about the substances inside and the structure.”

Women often prefer liquid mixtures, while men prefer wood oud, Al-Johani said.

Some people are superstitious and believe that oud can cast out devils and genies, he said. However, people say they feel “relieved” and “in good mood” after they smell incense.

Most sales take place before and during Ramadan as well as Eid Al-Adha holidays, he added.

Zaid Al-Qaoud, chairman of Oud Albaraka, said that sales of oud have plummeted in the past year due to the absence of parties and weddings.

“Sales have fallen by 80 percent compared with the previous years,” he told Arab News. “Demand has also decreased because of coronavirus and many people have turned to social media websites to buy oud.”

Most oud stores can be found in central Riyadh, which has about 400 outlets, he added.

“Indonesian oud is very popular in the Gulf region and is the main source of many types of oud in the market that come with different scents.”

He added that old oud gives a better and more beautiful smell than newer products.

It can be difficult for regular consumers to distinguish a high-quality oud from an inferior product. “People have different tastes for oud, but most of them cannot tell original oud from a false one.”

Al-Qaoud, who has been in the business for 20 years, said that many Europeans in Saudi Arabia understand the quality of oud, recalling a regular French customer who said: “I have never smelled a sweet smell like the Taif roses and oud oil.”

Ayed Al-Falih, who is interested in artefacts, said incense burners are made of a type of wood found in Hail farms, with a price ranging between SR100 and SR500.


King Salman offers Ramadan wishes, orders best services for pilgrims

Updated 14 April 2021

King Salman offers Ramadan wishes, orders best services for pilgrims

RIYADH: King Salman on Tuesday offered his best wishes to the Muslim world on the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan. 
The comments came as the king chaired the weekly government meeting virtually. 
He also instructed that pilgrims be given the best possible services during the holy month, which for a second year will be observed under strict protocols to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. 

Related


Muslims perform first Tarawih prayer at Saudi Arabia's Two Holy Mosques

Updated 13 April 2021

Muslims perform first Tarawih prayer at Saudi Arabia's Two Holy Mosques

  • Only vaccinated or immune worshippers will be allowed to enter the Two Holy Mosques
  • Tarawih and Qiyaam prayers will be combined with the Isha prayer in all mosques across the Kingdom

RIYADH: Worshippers performed the first Tarawih prayer at the Two Holy Mosques on Monday amid strict COVID-19 measures.
King Salman issued a decision on Sunday approving the evening prayer in mosques across the Kingdom during the month of Ramadan, but that they be reduced and combined with the Isha prayer.
Only vaccinated or immune worshippers will be allowed to enter the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and those who do not have a permit will face a hefty fine in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said it had intensified disinfection and sterilization operations, and is distributing single-use Zamzam water bottles to the prayer halls, areas, squares and to visitors, in general.
The authority said it had recruited more than 100 personnel to welcome worshippers at entrances and direct them to designated places and installed screening points. Thermal cameras have been set up to detect any signs of illness among those entering the mosques.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs said it has completed all preparations for the Muslim holy month. The program includes a number of projects, namely distributing dates through Islamic centers and religious attaches in a number of countries, the King Salman break fast initiative in 16 countries, campaigns to limit the spread of the coronavirus in mosques, as well as a series of virtual lectures throughout the month.
The ministry also issued a circular to all mosques, calling on imams and muezzins to commit the Maghrib and Isha prayers to a two-hour period throughout Ramadan. It also said that the waiting period between the call to prayer and Iqama (the start of the prayer) will be 10 minutes, except for the Fajr prayer, which will be 20 minutes.


Saudi female elected first president of Digital Cooperation Organization

Updated 13 April 2021

Saudi female elected first president of Digital Cooperation Organization

  • It is estimated that by 2025 the global digital economy will be worth $23 trillion with a GDP share of 24.3 percent

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia was elected president of the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) and Saudi national Deemah Alyahya was appointed the first secretary-general of the organization during its first meeting on Monday.
The organization also approved the accession of Nigeria and Oman to the organization as founding members.
The first five members of DCO included Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan.
The seven member states constitute an economic bloc worth $2 trillion of the global gross domestic product.
The first meeting was chaired by Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha. Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of the International Communication Union, GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf, World Economic Forum President Borge Brende and representatives of different UN programs also attended the meeting.
The meeting approved several initiatives including establishment of a center to boost coordination on transfer of data, women’s empowerment and promotion of small and medium enterprises with a focus on digital transformation.
The DCO aims to strengthen collaboration among member nations as they adapt to a global economy increasingly defined by technological innovation.
Through this initiative, the member states could establish solid cooperation in the emerging fields of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, IoT, big data, 5G, cloud computing, and blockchain.
It is estimated that by 2025 the global digital economy will be worth $23 trillion with a GDP share of 24.3 percent. This provides the DCO with a great opportunity to build a platform for their tech-savvy youth, women, entrepreneurs, and indigenous industry to flourish and compete with their global contemporaries and boost their digital competitiveness.
In addition, member states can harness their expertise and share experience to strengthen efforts for preparing for global crises such as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.


Hajj ministry announces guidelines for Umrah, Ramadan prayers

Updated 12 April 2021

Hajj ministry announces guidelines for Umrah, Ramadan prayers

  • Taraweeh, Qiyam prayers should not exceed 30 minutes in all mosques
  • Prayer permits will not be provided for unvaccinated individuals, Hajj ministry says

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set guidelines and protocols for issuing Umrah and prayer permits for the month of Ramadan. 
Vaccinations are at the top of the priority list as no worshippers are allowed into either Makkah’s Grand Mosque or Madinah’s Prophet’s Mosque without having received at least one dose of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine.
Permits will only be allowed through the Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps, and will not be provided for unvaccinated individuals, as the latest Tawkkalna update has designated each category with a color code and barcode specific to their health status.
Unauthorized vehicles will not be allowed in the central region around Makkah, and visitors must arrive on time or risk losing their time slot.
Children will not be allowed to enter either mosques, nor the courtyards around the mosques.

HIGHLIGHT

Permits will only be allowed through the Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps, and will not be provided for unvaccinated individuals, as the latest Tawkkalna update has designated each category with a color code and barcode specific to their health status.

The Ministry of Interior issued a warning that a SR10,000 ($26,671) fine will be issued to pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah without permits, and a SR1,000 fine for worshippers trying to enter the mosques without one.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance issued a statement saying that Taraweeh and Qiyam prayers should not exceed 30 minutes in all mosques in the Kingdom. This comes after King Salman issued a decision to permit Taraweeh prayers in the two holy mosques and reduce them to five tasleemat.
The ministry reminded people for the need to follow the preventive measures to ensure the safety, health and security of those visiting the two holy mosques.


Ramadan 2021 will start on Tuesday: Saudi Arabia

Updated 13 April 2021

Ramadan 2021 will start on Tuesday: Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Nearly 2 billion Muslims worldwide will mark the first day of Ramadan on Tuesday after an official sighting of the new crescent moon, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court said on Monday evening.

The court extended its best wishes to King Salman, the crown prince, citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom, and all Muslims on the advent of the holy month.

For a second year, Ramadan in Saudi Arabia will be observed under coronavirus precautions.

“The month of Ramadan is upon us and the world is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic,” King Salman said.

“We thank God for the scientific efforts in developing vaccines to curb the pandemic.”

READ MORE

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman approves Tarawih prayers in Two Holy Mosques Read more here.

Preventive measures remain in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus during Ramadan. Only vaccinated or immune worshippers will be allowed to enter the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and pilgrims who try to perform Umrah at the Grand Mosque in Makkah without a permit will face a fine of up to 10,000 riyals.

Nevertheless, with more than 6 million people already vaccinated, more people will be able to attend the holy sites than a year ago, and many Saudi families are looking forward to a more “normal” Ramadan after a year of restrictions.

READ MORE

Hajj Ministry announce Ramadan guidelines for Umrah and prayers Read more here.

Rahaf Hussain and her husband Abdullah Al-Rashidi both have families in Jeddah but live in the Eastern Province. They have made it their mission this Ramadan to spend as much holiday time together as they can for the sake of their children.

The couple have planned careful iftar gatherings of no more than 20 people this year, in line with official recommendations.

“This year, we plan on a COVID-free Ramadan,” Hussain told Arab News. “We got our vaccines, and we are still wearing masks and constantly washing our hands.

“We were deprived of our families, and we lost some dear ones. Our Ramadan gatherings last year were spent on screens, but I’m making sure that won’t happen this year. We’re sticking to the rules.”

Related