It’s difficult to create truly original fragrances after more than a hundred years of modern perfumery, but some brands still make the attempt nonetheless, particularly in the niche world. AJ Arabia does not appear to be one of those companies. It sticks to the tried-and-true, to the well-worn path — which would be perfectly fine except for the fact that the path is too well-worn in the case of Black IV, and also falls squarely into mainstream territory as well. We’re talking about a Sephora or department store style fragrance with only a barely elevated quality differential but for a significantly higher price.
AJ Arabia is a Middle Eastern niche and semi-luxury brand that was founded by Ali Aljaberi in Abu Dhabi in 2014. There are five fragrances in The Black Collection, and they are all pure parfums. According to the official copy quoted by many retail sites, their bottle and packaging design was “inspired by the grandiose architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.” The Middle Eastern inspiration allegedly extends to the scents as well: AJ Arabia’s website states that they are a “splendid example of contemporary Arab spirit, modern, but at the same time, traditional perfumes.” Yet, despite that claim of an Arabian aesthetic, all the fragrances were created by a French nose who is the senior perfumer for M. Micallef, Jean-Claude Astier. And it shows. Everything that I’ve smelt so far from AJ Arabia feels decidedly more European or French in my opinion than anything Middle Eastern in style. It’s disappointing, but not as disappointing as the fact that they also smell excessively commercial or mainstream in character.