It is actually remarkable that in a country where Perfume is an inherited ritual, Perfumery, as an Art, is still barely present.
I can count merely two years since the first professional perfume courses have become available to public (by PerfumersWorld), as all before were private consultations and workshops. Perfume School is not available, main perfume compositions are made in Europe (albeit we already have almost all Perfume Manufacturer's offices here).
But, things are changing for a better, we've got the Perfume Museum in Dubai (part of Al Shindagha Museum). It is a collaboration between Dubai Government and Villa515 (created and managed by Mr.Dhaher Bin Dhaher, perfumer and founder of Perfume Brand Tola).
While Perfume Museum in Grasse represents perfume history via past, Dubai Perfume Museum represents it via modern technologies.
It’s really amazing how creators managed to combine history, perfume and modern innovations. Perfumes and culture are perceived in a very engaging way that opens desire to discover and learn.
The very first look you have is met by a square window display with Oud chips installation. The very first step you make is accompanied with futuristic stainless steel automatic door that opens in front of you giving an impression of mystery and innovation. Stepping into the first section of the Museum is a stunning surprise to those who would expect classic displays, shelves and sections. Usually, I avoid visiting museums due to not willing to immerse myself into the "dusty" past, unless there is something I really must see. In the case with Dubai Perfume Museum, I had to see what is in there as it was my duty to do so and eager excitement at the same time. I expected to find classic displays telling me about glory-time of the past and old perfume traditions, which, I thought, I knew. Albeit, instead, I found myself in the future looking at the past via modern present.
I was greeted by futuristic installations featuring the most prized raw materials like Rose, Ambergris, Oud, Saffron, Incense, Musk. The selection itself is pretty expected however the way it is presented was a total, pleasant, surprise. You can see original samples of the raw materials, original perfume oil and even its natural or chemical alternatives.
Just have a look at these devices that exudes the scent of raw materials, precision and details! They all work excellently, the scent comes out fast, seamless experience.
Once we're done with the first step, we move further to another area, Perfume Heritage. There are modern devices installed around where you can find the most frequent perfume blends used in the past. They exude the scent with just a click of a button inviting you into the beauty of aromas. To my surprise, Incense, Musk and Oud blends were far not the only ones. There are Coffee, Powder Perfume, Camphor blends and many others I had to take into account in order to be well aware of a rich Middle Eastern perfume culture.
There are several sections with different experiences where you can read about the Emirati Perfumers of the past and present, watch movie, engage with interactive screens and just enjoy walking around, learning about traditions, rituals and passion that have embedded into Emirati culture.
Our next step is the Perfume Lab, however not an old alchemistry staff you would expect, yet a modern, equipped with up-to-date technologies place where you can find the latest raw materials and tools. It's going to be a center of perfume workshops and other activities that can help people to know more and get a closer touch to the Art of Perfumery. Entire Perfume Lab section is handled by Villa515 which, in its turn, is managed by Mr. Dhaher Bin Dhaher, founder of Perfume Brand Tola and Villa515 itself.
There is a Perfume Store as well where you can find the very selective Brands which have been chosen to represent the Art of Perfumery.
Actually, there are few more sections to be opened soon that will even broadly show diversity and depth of the Emirati perfume culture.
It won't be an exaggeration to say that I'm a different person now, after visiting the museum (in terms of understanding Emirati perfume traditions and culture). It is shown in the way you fall in love with perfumes, culture and heritage. I felt unobtrusive and really engaging atmosphere, I wanted to move around back and forth discovering sections and corners, game with all that modern and interactive tools that are everywhere around over there.
My sincere congratulations to Dubai Government and Mr.Dhaher himself for making it happen. It is a timeless experience of the past.
Dubai Perfume Museum website: https://alshindagha.dubaiculture.gov.ae/en/Pages/default.aspx
Ticket price: AED 15 (includes Entry to Dubai Creek Museum as well)
Open time: 10:00am - 06:00pm, Friday: 2:30pm to 09:00pm
Below, you can find the Photo Gallery: