I've had the hardest time wrapping my mind around Ramon Monegal's Dubai Next To Me and figuring it out. It didn't help any that two out of three times I've worn it the husband found something to complain about: the rose, the dirty oud, something about the spice (he's not a fan of saffron-rose blends), the fruitiness, the rose, and the rose again. He really doesn't like rose notes in perfume (and I suspect he also gives the stinkeye to our three and a half rose bushes). To be honest, I'm not necessarily a rose person myself, except for a rather long list of exceptions (here and here). Roman Monegal's other rose offerings fell apart on my skin almost upon contact so all the samples went to waste. But Dubai Next To Me has been giving me so much to think about has it's been doing things, shifting and changing, exploding in colors and aromas that vary from one day to another.
If I were pressed to label Monegal's Dubai I'd call it a Middle-eastern-style spicy rose. This covers most of the bases, yet doesn't explain why some days this rose is bursting with the listed fruity notes, juicy and pulpy to the max, while the next day it's all gone and I get a very luxurious saffron-rose-leather, gender-neutral and elegant. where did the peach-melon thing go? Can we make it leave forever, so we can focus on the leather? Please?
There's a very dirty leather and spice accord that engulfs the red roses of Dubai Next To Me. Ramon Monegal calls it "Spanish leather", and seeing that he is Spanish I'm willing to accept it at face value. I think it has something to do with the way saffron is infused into the composition. It smells expensive and a touch gentlemanly, like many good leathers, before taking a more oriental turn. But it's not a classic oriental by any means. Yes, it forms arabesques of floral oils and sweet resins, but there's also smoke and and cold stone floors underneath the heaps of piles of rose garlands, adding a nighttime, far less shiny outlook to the perfume.
Some of the wood, burnt chips, and sappy resins may or may not be related to oud. I detect an oud note in Dubai Next To Me, but it's more of an impression than a serving of the real thing. Professional oud fiends might scoff at this particular interpretation. I've smelled enough of the real thing to not consider Dubai a true oud fragrance. It's too gilded and ornamental , has too many special effect that dazzle and sparkle to give you an oud experience, which is fine. Dubai Next To Me was created to evoke the lavishness and excess of the breathtaking Dubai, to give you something special to bring home with you from a visit, a memento of the riches and the skyline that have left you breathless, and make you smell like a million dollars for a whole day (and then some) in the process. As long as you really like spicy rose, that is.
Notes: coconut, peach, melon, Spanish saffron, nutmeg, black pepper,jasmine, rose oil, rose absolute, frankinsence, labdanum-cistus, oud, sandalwood, cashmeran wood, Spanish leather, tonka and ambraceme absolute.
Ramon Monegal- Dubai Next To Me ( 835 AED 1.7 FL OZ Eau de Parfum, which is around $227 in the current exchange rate) is exclusive to Bloomingdale's Dubai, and as far as I know can only be purchased in person.
Photo: Dubai NYE's fireworks on Burj Khalifa, 2014 by Daniel Shih