Al Haramain‘s Prestige Collection turns away from the extravagant and ornate orchestral symphonies of Middle Eastern attars to focus on quieter melodies that bear a more European aesthetic. Eau de parfums like Obsessive Oudh and Arabian Treasure are both soliflores that pay tribute to a characteristically Eastern ingredient — authentic, genuine agarwood and labdanum amber, respectively — but they do so in a quieter fashion, filtering the materials’ complex, animalic, or decadent qualities through a refined lens to create a very approachable scent. And, yet, the fragrances never give up their oriental roots completely, always maintaining a strong olfactory vestige or quality that nods to the company’s origins.
They may not be the edgiest or most complicated of scents, but they’re not meant to be. What they’re meant to be are highly polished orientals that clarify the ingredients and blend them seamlessly in a lighter, airier, softer bouquet to create an easy-to-wear, versatile, and high-quality scent. All of that is then packaged in a truly luxurious, chic manner. I’ll look at each fragrance in turn.
Obsessive Oudh is a spray eau de parfum, not an attar or concentrated fragrance oil. Al Haramain Exclusive describes the scent and its notes as follows:
Obsessive Oudh is addressed to the wild and adventurous heart due to the presence of a powerful dose of animalistic oudh in every stage of the fragrance. The temptation comes through in the first notes of the fragrance which stores the heat and passion of amber and musk. The heart of the fragrance ignites an irresistible flame of high-quality agarwood, which is also manifested in the base notes. In the dry-down the sharp leathery accents add the finalizing touches to the brilliant blend of amber and oudh.
Top notes: Musk, Amber
Middle notes: Amber, Agarwood
Base notes: Agarwood.
Obsessive Oudh opens on my skin with a multi-faceted oud that is earthy with a mushroom-like richness and veined with fermented, runny, creamy blue cheese. The scent bears ghostly hints of something that is almost like a meaty floralcy, that ineffable aroma that you find with real agarwood rather than the synthetic, Westernized versions. If mushrooms and black truffles could sprout small flowers in the earth at the base of a chewy, dense, cheese-coated agarwood tree, then their aroma has been captured in the early moments of Obsessive Oudh.
Other elements accompany the main note. Running through the base is a thick, turgid river of leather that is blackened, animalic, and raw, like the hides you see drying in the sun in the Middle East. The bridge connecting the two parts is formed by tendrils of smokiness. The whole thing is then cloaked by a thin, sheer cloud of muskiness that is just lightly speckled with drops of amber. It doesn’t read as actual amber at this point, but this is not a clean, cool, or fresh musk by any means. It rumbles with dark, dirty, and golden overtones all at once, thanks to the power of the leather in conjunction with the amber.
It’s an appealing opening. I loathe heavy amounts of blue cheese or Gorgonzola (in anything, including food), but it’s a carefully modulated touch here, rather than the typical deluge of fermented stinky cheese that I find in some Middle Eastern ouds. It actually works beautifully with the other notes, not only because the quantity isn’t excessive but because of how it smells. The aroma is not the potent, knock-your-socks-off ripeness or muskiness of Laotian agarwood, but it’s not the creamy mildness of the goat cheese found in Soufi-style or Indian agarwood, either. This lies somewhere in-between, but feels as though the notes have then been refined, almost purified to remove some of their more difficult qualities.
That’s undoubtedly why there is nothing fecal on my skin, nothing that evokes either hot, steaming piles of cow dung or camels on a rampage like a few Middle Eastern ouds that I’ve tried. Instead, there is just enough of a feral, animalic growl from the leather in the first 30 minutes to render the oud sexy. The earthiness is dark and deep in a strangely comforting, primal sort of way, while the amber is just sufficient to round things out. The only thing I don’t like about the opening is the sharpness of the leather in the base. It is a little pointed for my tastes, giving the animal hides a roughness that feels overly tannic and raw. Then again, that is rather the point: a quiet feral rumbling beneath the civilized veneer of an otherwise polished, refined oud.
Roughly 25 minutes in, Obsessive Oudh shifts. A new creaminess arrives, seeping over the notes, rounding out their edges, and adding a concrete, distinct layer of plushness that gives the scent depth and a fuller body. It swallows up much of the blue cheese, though sometimes distinct, clear ripples lap at the edges of the scent. For the most part, though, the two accords fuse into one, providing a textural layer that lies atop the wood and leather like a blanket of cheese-y-ish clotted cream.
At the same time, hints of caramel sweetness bubble up around the wood as the amber spreads its wings and blossoms. The tendrils of smokiness continue to seep upward, wrapping their fingers around the oud, but they’re more diffuse now, merging into the other notes, and slowly becoming one with them. By the end of the first hour, all the notes overlap, seamlessly blended together to add layers of nuance and richness to the agarwood that is being showcased.
Obsessive Oudh’s second big change occurs roughly 90 minutes into its development. The scent turns sweeter, muskier, and smokier. The leather remains woven around the oud’s roots in the base, but its animalic rumblings have risen to the top where they’ve been tamed by the cream and transformed into more of a meow. (For now, at least.) At the same time, the smokiness has also emerged up top, blossoming into thick strands that suffuse the wood with an incense-like darkness. It tries to counterbalance the growing waves of ambered caramel that envelop Obsessive Oudh, but it doesn’t really succeed.
For the next hour, the scent skews more towards the sweet side than the dry or smoky. In all candour, I must say I find the combination of caramel with smoky, musky, slightly cheesy, leathered and animalic oud to be a little discordant, or perhaps “disconcerting” is the better word. Then again, I’m not accustomed to sweetness mixed with my smoky or animalic oud. Plus, the caramel doesn’t last for long in a truly distinct, separate way. Like all the other notes in Obsessive Oudh, it spends a short time dancing with the key note in the spotlight before handing the oud off to another partner. By the start of the 3rd hour, the smokiness takes its turn, pirouetting around the oud, turning the fragrance drier and darker in profile, diffusing the thickness of its cream, and cutting through its caramel/amber sweetness.
As noted earlier, Obsessive Oudh is a soliflore — a scent that showcases one note in all its various facets — and soliflores are typically very linear scents. That is partially the case here as well. A lot of the time, I think Obsessive Oudh is totally linear from the 3rd hour onwards, changing only in the prominence and order of individual notes, and in the overall nuance of the scent. For hours, it continues on its set path; there are no twists and turns, no morphing from one genre to the next. The goal seems to be to highlight a refined but animalic oud, and Al Haramain succeeds in that endeavour for much of the fragrance’s lifetime. From the start of the 2nd hour onwards, it is simply a vaguely cheesy oud that is infused with fluctuating levels of creaminess, smokiness, animalic rawness, muskiness, earthiness, and ambered sweetness, all atop a base of cream-coated leather that bears its own fluctuating degree of smokiness.
It is Obsessive Oudh’s drydown that gives me pause in my linearity theory, though I suppose one might argue the drydown simply demonstrates the idea that some of the existing notes grow in prominence to the point where they eventually take over the focus of the scent. Then again, one could also argue that the drydown which unfurls at the start of the 8th hour is a completely new stage that marks a departure from everything that came before because the oud feels quite different now. It is almost entirely beset by leather that is intensely raw, animalic, sharply tannic, and tarry, then cocooned in smoky darkness.
The groundwork for all this is laid at the end of the 5th hour when the smokiness grows increasingly strong. It wipes out most of the cream and amber, ends the cheese, and turns the scent drier. The leather begins to seep up from the base, and it’s turned back to being sharp. It’s increasingly animalic, but not in the fecal or barnyard sense. Instead, it feels like rough, raw animal hides more than ever, and evinces a smokiness all of its own, along with a touch of muskiness.
By the start of the 8th hour, it rises up fully from the base to coat the oud, turning the scent extremely dry and dark when mixed with the incense-like smokiness that is swirling all around. All vestige of the ambered warmth or sweetness has now fully disappeared. Instead, the scent has turned feral again, and the meow become a definite growl. I find the rawness of the leather to be quite sharp on my skin, but I concede that this sort of leathery, smoky oud is outside my comfort zone in general and skews too masculine for my tastes. It reminds me of parts of SHL 777‘s Oud 777, though Obsessive Oudh is milder, softer, and quieter than the apocalyptic, leathered, burning oud forest there. (No, really, it is!) Obsessive Oudh continues this way for hours without much change. In its final moments, all that’s left is dry, smoky darkness.
Obsessive Oud has excellent longevity, but soft projection and average-to-soft sillage. Using 2 good, generous smears equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle, the fragrance opened with 3 inches of projection, perhaps 4 at most. The scent trail extended 5 inches at first, but both numbers soon dropped. After an hour, Obsessive Oudh projected 1.5 inches, 1 inch after 90 minutes, and then hovered just barely above the skin at the 2.5 hour mark. It became a skin scent midway 4 hours into its development, but was easy to detect without effort until the 8th hour when it was a mere wisp. The sillage was only a hair stronger: the scent extended about 3 inches in the air after 90 minutes, then sat close to the skin after 2.5 hours, though there would be occasional waft if I moved my arms. Despite all this, Obsessive Oudh clung on with surprising tenacity, lasting just shy of 15.5 hours in total.
All of it is not only quieter in projection and sillage than I had expected, but also lighter in body. This is not a loud, heavy, or chewy scent; there is no “beast mode” or Middle Eastern dramatics. Obsessive Oudh isn’t a subtle fragrance, but it is significantly softer and airier than many Arabian ouds, and bears a more European aesthetic in that sense. As a result, I think it reads as more of a versatile and wearable fragrance for people who want a real, authentic agarwood scent for everyday purposes. Opulent richness, heft, and nuclear sillage can be a fantastic thing, but their loudness or potency often renders such fragrances suitable for special occasions or for when you want to stand out in a crowd. Obsessive Oudh doesn’t announce itself ahead of time, and it won’t make waves either in terms of distinctive edginess or forcefulness, but that isn’t a bad thing necessarily. To be clear, though, I am not saying that this is a discreet, intimate scent as a whole, merely that it doesn’t emit the powerhouse force-field that typifies the Middle Eastern aesthetic a lot of the times. It’s a relative matter on a sliding scale.
It’s also a relative matter that depends on one’s personal baseline and standards. On Fragrantica, there are only two comments for Obsessive Oudh at this time. One person, “Imanpower,” found it to be the “most powerfull scent i have ever smelled[.] 10*black afgano…” The second clearly found Obsessive Oudh to be intensely animalic, writing: “Maybe Al Haramain made this for thick woolly mens back & shoulders hair removal ?” In terms of longevity, there is 1 vote for “long lasting” (defined as 7-12 hours) and 1 for “very long lasting” (12+hours). Sillage votes are split between 1 for “moderate” and 1 for “enormous.”
I think the way Obsessive Oudh manifests itself on you will depend on several factors: your personal skin chemistry, how much fragrance you apply, how you define certain terms, and your experience with this genre. If you’re used to truly animalic, cheesy, authentic Middle Eastern agarwood like that in AbdesSalaam Attar‘s Oud Caravan No. 3 or Xerjoff‘s notorious Zafar, or if you’ve explored the hardcore smoky, leathery sort of agarwood like the Laotian variety in SHL 777‘s Oud 777, then I think you’ll probably find Obsessive Oudh to be quite moderate. On the other hand, if you’re used to the Western (and usually synthetic) sort of “oud” from brands like Tom Ford or Kilian, then I suspect you’ll have problems and you will probably find Obsessive Oudh to be suitable for cavemen with “thick woolly” backs, to paraphrase that one Fragrantica commentator. Obsessive Oudh may be a refined version of Middle Eastern oud, but it is still real oud and isn’t completely purified of all its natural facets. As I said before, it’s a relative matter on a sliding scale.
Be that as it may, I generally liked Obsessive Oudh, at least until its drydown. Up to that point, I found it to be one of the most approachable soliflore treatments of authentic, funky, and animalic agarwood that I’ve come across in a while. I personally don’t love oud enough to wear a soliflore of it but, as these things go, I thought parts of Obsessive Oudh were surprisingly appealing, and I admired its superb blending. Other parts may have been sharp to my nose but it still felt genuine and naturalistic, rather than synthetic (like the “oud” I tried yesterday from another Arabian company which burnt my nostrils with chemical abrasiveness). The more feral, raw, smoky, and leathered parts of the scent that eventually emerged are not my thing, but it’s the sort of very masculine oud that quite a few people enjoy.
If that is you, and if you’re looking for a moderately animalic but leathery oud that is polished more than aggressively butch or bombastic, then you should definitely give Obsessive Oudh a sniff. Samples are affordable and easily available from Al Haramain Exclusive in the Netherlands. (See the Details section at the end.) All in all, nice job.
ARABIAN TREASURE:Arabian Treasure is also a spray eau de parfum, but the focus this time is on spicy and sweet amber, embellished with fresh, aromatic touches. Al Haramain Exclusive describes the scent and its notes as follows:
A warm and stylish unisex fragrance created from high quality components that guarantee an excellent durability. The expressive, spicy notes are combined with a variety of subtle tones. The top notes are a spicy blend of cinnamon, cardamom and geranium. In the heart, the spicy theme continues with clove and nuances of refreshing mint. Base notes of patchouli and labdanum go well with a strong dose of high quality amber and complete the composition to create a spectacular olfactory experience.
Top notes: Cinnamon, Cardamom, Geranium
Middle notes: Mint, Clove
Base notes: Patchouli, Amber, Labdanum
Arabian Treasure opens on my skin with aromatic greenness, herbs and dusty woods set against a backdrop of sticky, chewy labdanum toffee shot through with musky, ambergris caramel. To my nose, the aromatics smell virtually identical to the myrtle in MPG‘s Ambre Precieux, to the point that I am consistently taken aback by the similarity between the two accords and the two fragrances. (Arabian Treasure even manages to something of Ambre Precieux’s the lavender fougère vibe.) The end result conjures up young, fresh, leafy, aromatic woods and crisp, bright “myrtle” swaying in the midst of a strong cyclone of labdanum amber and sweetness.
Roughly 5 minutes in, Arabian Treasure shifts. The bitter piquancy of fuzzy geranium leaves shoots up around the “myrtle”-like woodiness, while ripples of brown patchouli swirl around its roots as though it were earth coated with a fine layer of dustiness. A handful of equally dusty, pungent cloves and a pinch of dried mint finish things off. Just as with Al Haramain‘s Safwa Attar, there is also something metallic lurking about in the first hour. Actually, Safwa and Arabian Treasure share 7 notes in common, but the two fragrances feel and smell completely different. I find Arabian Treasure to be much better modulated: there are merely small amounts of clove and spicy patchouli; only faint traces of dusty woodiness or dried herbs; greater aromatic freshness; and significantly larger amounts of labdanum and amber.
For all the overlap in notes, I think Arabian Treasure smells far more like Ambre Precieux than Safwa. The differences are small: Arabian Treasure’s proportion of spices and aromatics is higher than the reformulated, current version of Ambre Precieux. It is also significantly stronger in both bouquet and sillage. On the other hand, I don’t think Arabian Treasure is as smooth as Ambre Precieux, it feels fractionally sharper, and bears that metallic edge for a while. But these are nuances or a question of degree on my skin. Both their aroma from afar, their weight in body, and their overall feel is astonishingly similar. To all effects and purposes, the scent that swirls in the air around me is Ambre Precieux that has been super-sized, as if placed on steroids in order to amplify its sweetness, spices, and aromatic freshness. I happen to love Ambre Precieux and consider it to be such a quasi-gourmand comfort scent that I’m now on my second bottle, so all of this is generally fine with me.
That said, I must be frank, I much prefer the opening of Ambre Precieux in the first two hours. That is when the differences between the two scents are greatest or most noticeable. For example, Arabian Treasure’s aromatic elements feel pointedly sharp, not smooth, and there is occasionally a biting quality to the scent that I never experienced with Ambre Precieux. I also find myself continually perplexed by the metallic note. My guess is that it stems from the geranium, but it’s not iciness, briskness, or aromatic greenness. It’s impossible to describe except by saying it’s truly a metal-like quality to my nose, and it clangs far louder here than it ever did in Safwa. Thankfully, and on the plus side, it only lasts an hour on my skin before it retreats to the sidelines, and then eventually fades away entirely.
I’ve tested Arabian Treasure three times, and it consistently improves as the second hour ends and the third one begins. Substantially so, in my opinion. The notes blend together seamlessly, the individual parts aren’t so sharp, and the scent’s jangly edges are smoothened out as a whole. I can pick out almost all the notes (with the exception of the cardamom), but they overlap in such a way that it is hard to determine where one ends and the next begins.
To a large extent, that results in a largely linear fragrance but, as with Obsessive Oudh, the final drydown is very different in feel and focus from the debut. Still, for much of its life after the first two or three hours, Arabian Treasure doesn’t really have separate stages. The notes ripple along as a harmonious whole, and the only change is to the order or prominence of some of them. The aromatic and “myrtle”-like freshness begin to weaken after 2 hours, then slip to the background before dying out completely at the end of the 6th hour. The spices, earthy patchouli, and mixed amber accords melt into one, creating a rich maelstrom of dark (but glowing), musky, spicy, resinous sweetness that is smudged at the edges with a quiet smokiness and a smidgeon of woodiness.
The fundamental core of Arabian Treasure is its amber accord. The labdanum’s toffee and the ambered (possibly real ambergris) caramel are shot through with a benzoin-like resinousness, along with what I would swear is a good dose of creamy vanilla. Their fusion results in that same semi-gourmand, semi-oriental, resinous bouquet that marks much of Ambre Precieux on my skin. The difference is that Arabian Treasure never bears the quiet powderiness that Ambre Precieux sometimes manifests. Instead, its resins emit a quiet smokiness, and curlicues of an incense-like darkness are constantly weaving in and out from the sidelines. Those minor differences aside, both scents have the same caramel-vanilla-toffee’d decadence, though I’d argue that Arabian Treasure’s is chewier and stronger.
Arabian Treasure changes in such tiny, incremental steps that one doesn’t notice until the final drydown begins roughly around the 8th hour, and then you realise the scent has become a haze of spicy, caramel sweetness layered with creamy vanilla. It is lush, smooth, and silky, perfectly balanced with just enough dryness, spiciness, and ghostly smidgens of smokiness to ensure that the bouquet never feels sugary, cloying, or truly gourmand. Instead, it feels as though thin layers of gold lacquer your skin, surrounding you with the most cozy, comforting warmth. The plushness continues for hours, never changing except to take on greater vanillic creaminess. In its final hours, all that is left is a dark, vanilla-ish creaminess.
Like Obsessive Oudh, Arabian Treasure had excellent longevity with projection and the sillage were good-to-moderate before turning soft after a few hours. Using several good, wide smears roughly equal to 2 solid sprays from a bottle, the fragrance opened with 4-5 inches of projection and about 6 inches of sillage. After 90 minutes, Arabian Treasure projected about 1.5 inches, and the scent trail was between 3-4 inches. It became even softer at the end of the 2nd hour, though tiny tendrils wafted about when I moved my arms. Arabian Treasure hovered just above the skin at the start of the 4th hour, but didn’t become a skin scent until the 7th hour, though it was easy to detect up close and without much effort until midway during the 10th hour. I thought it was going to die 13.5 hours in, but wisps of creamy sweetness clung to my skin until just before the 15th hour.
Arabian Treasure has no entry page on Fragrantica, despite their long list of 147 Al Haramain releases. I haven’t found any Basenotes or blog reviews, either. However, I located a Facebook summation for a short YouTube video from a Scandinavian chap, “Guerlenland,” which describes Arabian Treasure as:
a sophisticated Arabian fragrance, not an Oud or heavy perfume, but a beautiful spicy uplifting characteristic oriental. A bit on the masculine side with leather and woods but very nice on ladies too.
I’ll share his video as well because he not only talks about the scent bouquet, but he also spends a lot of time showing Arabian Treasure’s bottle and packaging. Frankly, wow. It looks incredibly elegant. I love how the crystal bottle has been cut like a jewel:
He loved Arabian Treasure for its scent as much as its bottle. Like me, he experienced a lot of aromatics (and geranium) in the opening, in addition to all the listed spices, like cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. I get the impression, though, that what really made the scent for him was the clove and mint that he goes out of his way to emphasize at one point in his chat. I encountered little mint in a strongly delineated, individual fashion but the fragrance is superbly blended as I’ve noted before, and there is no doubt that all the aromatics play a role in the opening to give Arabian Treasure a bright, brisk, almost fougère-like freshness against its backdrop of darkly resinous, chewy amber.
Arabian Treasure is the fragrance I liked the most out of the four that I’ve reviewed, but only when taken from start to finish. Mukhallath Seufi‘s opening wins hands down for the most complexity and opulent, insanely extravagant beauty. As noted in that review, I didn’t enjoy the last few stages of that scent so much, while I loved Arabian Treasure later on its development. It’s hardly as distinctive, but it may be an easier fragrance to wear on a daily basis. Actually, I think it may be the easiest and most approachable of the four, and I recommend it for people who love their amber mixed with some fresh accords.
Al Haramain Exclusive makes it easy for you to sample Arabian Treasure (and most of their other fragrances as well). To summarize quickly for those of you who may have just found this review and didn’t read the one for Mukhallath Seufi, the Netherlands branch of the company offers three affordable sample sets with free worldwide shipping included in the price. Each set costs €20 and you get either 5 or 8 perfumes, depending on which set you choose. Each scent is said to come in 2 ml manufacturer vials, though mine had perhaps 1.5 ml at most, so don’t be surprised if you get less than 2 ml. I think it’s still a great deal given the price of a full bottle.
As a side note, Al Haramain Exclusive will be sending me some of their floral orientals or floral fragrances, so look for those reviews in a few weeks. I’m looking forward to trying a different side of the company because, regardless of whether or not a particular fragrance worked for me, The Exclusive Collections have consistently impressed me with their quality and their seamlessness, not to mention their luxurious packaging. I think some of their fragrances are quite reasonably priced in that context and when you consider the totality of the circumstances. Al Haramain may not be as inexpensive as, say, Arabian Oud (let alone something like Al-Rehat or Lattafa), but I think their Prestige or Premium scents are significantly and noticeably superior in quality. Give them a try for yourself.
Disclosure: My samples were provided courtesy of Al Haramain Exclusive. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.