Candy odor of success: Ajmal Perfumes, the story of an Indian farmer with Dh25 who arrange a multimillion-dollar fragrance firm within the UAE

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Mohammed Amiruddin Ajmal, seated, with Asad Ajmal, Maryam Ajmal and Abdullah Ajmal.
Picture Credit score: Clint Egbert/Gulf Information

Dubai: From a farmer in India to a perfumer within the UAE, the journey of Haji Ajmal Ali has been a exceptional success story. The late Haji Ajmal Ali began his fragrance enterprise with Rs500 (Dh25) in India earlier than reaching the UAE within the early 1960’s. At present the family-owned enterprise is a multi-million greenback company entity. His labour of affection, Ajmal Perfumes, is standing tall as a testimonial to his perseverance and enterprise acumen.

This yr, Ajmal Perfumes celebrates 70 years of its operations.

Flip again the clock

Ajmal Perfumes was based within the early Nineteen Fifties by the late Haji Ajmal Ali (left) within the northeastern Indian state of Assam. It began as a small enterprise with a capital of Rs500 (Dh25 at right now’s fee) in his house state earlier than transferring to India’s industrial capital Mumbai. Their first Dubai retailer was arrange in 1976. The expansion was gradual and regular. They’ve greater than 280 shops throughout the area now and boast an export community protecting 45 nations around the globe.

At present, Ajmal Perfumes is run by the second and third technology of Ajmals; every enjoying a key position within the model’s growth and progress. From a modest buying and selling home, the corporate has now turned a multi-million greenback company entity.

“Due to the imaginative and prescient of my grandfather, the late Haji Ajmal Ali and his unstinting dedication to the craft of perfumery, we’ve got grown within the enterprise,” mentioned Abdulla Ajmal, deputy CEO of the perfumery and the eldest of the third technology of Ajmals.

On a path set by the elders

“I’ll offer you an instance of how the elders within the household set objectives for us. They’d inform us: Now we have taken you from a bullock-cart to a BMW automotive. Now it’s your flip to take us from the BMW to a Boeing aircraft. We hope to cross this to our kids as properly,” mentioned Abdullah, whose household hails from Assam.

Abdullah’s father, Mohammed Amiruddin Ajmal, 73, CEO, Ajmal Perfumes, who’s the oldest of the second technology of Ajmals, mentioned: “Oud was in our yard in India. That’s how our enterprise began — with oud and its numerous oils. My father, the late Haji Ajmal, then moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) to mix oils in a tiny condo. Again within the Nineteen Fifties merchants from the Gulf would come to India for spices, textiles and perfumes. My father began interacting with them and launched our home-grown oud and attar. Someday he determined to make a visit to this a part of the world and landed in Sharjah in 1961. Through the journey he met merchants and a few visionary leaders.

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Mohamed Amiruddin Ajmal, CEO, Ajmal Perfumes, in Dubai on tenth February, 2021.
Picture Credit score: Clint Egbert/Gulf Information

“My father was very near some UAE merchants. The enterprise within the Gulf at the moment was centered on pearls. It took six years for us to determine ourselves. We didn’t come right here loaded with cash. We needed to persuade individuals of what we have been doing.

“We have been working by sellers. When the Gulf Warfare began, gathering funds turned a problem. Some sellers used the invasion of Kuwait as an excuse to delay fee. That’s after we determined to enter retail operations,” Mohammed mentioned.

Their first retailer was arrange in Dubai in 1976. The remainder, like they are saying, is historical past.

“We opened our one centesimal retailer in 2006 in Umm Al Quwain. At present we’ve got extra 280 shops throughout the area and we export to about 45 nations around the globe. Now the third technology of Ajmals has entered the enterprise. I really feel so proud,” Mohammed mentioned.

The Ajmal household used to reside in Murshid Bazaar in Dubai’s Deira space. “The constructing was known as the Business Financial institution of Dubai constructing. The financial institution has shifted its premises, however the constructing stays,” he reminisced. Mohammed and his youngsters now reside in a sprawling villa in Jumeirah, and can quickly transfer to Meydan.

Abdullah Ajmal’s cousin Maryam is the pinnacle of perfumery division, and his youthful brother Asad Ajmal heads design, growth and planning sections.

Maryam is alleged to have a nostril for perfumes like her father, the late Nazir Ajmal.

“My father was a visionary. Sadly he died once I was younger. However he taught me properly. He was a risk-taker, however he additionally taught me to be affected person. The values he instilled in me stick with me even now,” she mentioned.

Abdullah elaborated on how Maryam has adopted in her father’s footsteps. “My uncle Nazir was a genius perfume-maker. He would get up in the midst of the evening with new fragrance formulation in his head. Maryam has the identical nostril for fragrance. She has developed it additional as she may be very detail-oriented and is a stickler for organising issues.”

Asad dabbled in different jobs earlier than coming into the household enterprise. “I assume house is the place the guts is,” he says.

The story of Oud: from the timber to the bottle

The Agarwood tree falls underneath the Thymelaeaceae household. The timber that Ajmal domesticate fall underneath the sub species: Aquilaria Malaccensis, says Maryam. These sub species are native to North East India and Bangladesh, whereas different species can be discovered within the Far East and in Sri Lanka.

In Agarwood timber, the resin (or oil) often called oud doesn’t kind naturally as it will in different timber, reminiscent of within the sandalwood or Cedarwood timber. As an alternative, the tree should face exterior stresses, reminiscent of injury from storms, or the burrowing of a particular worm, for it to sense hazard, and begin producing the oud oil or resin as a protecting mechanism from exterior forces. Because of this, oud formation is reasonably sporadic and isn’t localised within the core. Additionally, not all Agarwood timber produce this resin, and that’s the reason it’s such a treasured useful resource. The tree should additionally attain a minimal age of 25 years of maturity earlier than we will harvest an oud bearing tree.

As soon as an oud bearing tree has been recognized and harvested, expert employees separate the resin bearing wooden from the remaining ‘white wooden’ in order that solely the darkish, previous wealthy wooden is left behind. They use numerous instruments for this process. After that, the wooden chips are steam distilled for something between 30 – 90 days (relying on the origin/species of the Agarwood chips). After distillation, the valuable oud Oil – or black Gold – is separated from the condensed water, and is lastly bottled to be both used within the formulations, or bought in outlets.

Alternatively, the oud chips are additionally straight burned to make the room, garments, and even our physique elements (hair, for instance) aromatic.

Ajmal timeline
Picture Credit score: Seyyed Llata/Gulf Information

Ladies energy in household

Abdullah mentioned the ladies within the household are the spine of the enterprise. “Ladies in our household have at all times been robust. We might not be the place we at the moment are if it was not for our grandmother. She had a powerful character and pushed her youngsters to depart India and work within the Gulf,” Abdullah mentioned.

“My mom was a really robust girl as properly. I’m who I’m due to her. She was extremely educated and ensured all of us went to good colleges and schools.”

Mohammed says a mix of the East and the West cast their outlook and spawned success for the corporate within the UAE.

“Again in India, conventional attars and oud have been in style. However individuals within the Gulf have been influenced by western fragrances. And so we created fusions,” he mentioned.

“The brand new merchandise we created have been the outcomes of this fusion of uncooked supplies and fragrances from East and West. The second and third technology of Ajmals have adopted the precept laid down by my father,” Abdullah mentioned.

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(From left) Mariam Ajmal (Head of Perfumery), Abdullah Ajmal (Deputy COO) and Asad Ajmal (Head of Provide) throughout an interview in Dubai on tenth February, 2021.

“Now we have at all times counted on innovation, analysis and growth to maintain us forward of the sport. My father began as a single commodity dealer. At present, we’re an end-to-end perfume home. Now we have uncooked materials distillations, personal plantations and provide uncooked supplies to the trade. We’re fully vertically built-in,” Abdullah mentioned.

“Our experience within the seventies and eighties have been sometimes darkish Arabic fragrances. At present we’ve got the experience to create the lightest of oriental or western fragrances and darkish Arabesque oriental fragrances. We work with a few of the finest grasp perfumers of the world for oud excursions to advertise fusions.”

Abdulla mentioned the pandemic has put an “attention-grabbing” spin on the fragrance enterprise. “[Sale of] house fragrances have gone up significantly. Private perfume sale too have gone up significantly. Fragrances make individuals really feel good. It provides them a contact of the outside. There’s a enormous shift in the way in which how fragrances play a task within the lives of individuals. We imagine that the long run is vibrant. It can take a bit little bit of time.”

His message for younger entrepreneurs within the UAE: “Maintain onto your roots. Consolidate your power and be true to your prospects.”

Haji Ajmal Ali Mother Theresa
Ajmal Perfumes founder Haji Ajmal Ali, proper, with Mom Theresa at an occasion in Assam, India

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