Oud, also known as Agarwood, is the basis of some of the of the most world’s exclusive perfumes. Derived from the resinous bark of a tree that only grows in parts of South East Asia, it is also one of the world’s rarest and most expensive commodities – kilo for kilo more costly than gold.
The fragrances it releases have long been of huge cultural significance in the Gulf and the Middle East where they are used as tokens of hospitality and welcome.
But more recently leading western perfumers and Chinese investors have also been beguiled by its unique scent. Now supplies are drying up as consumer demand grows, profit-hungry speculators close in on the market and the tree from which it is sourced becomes increasingly endangered.