The Perfumery Symposium

In a captivating weekend filled with aromatic wonders, Qatar America Institute for Culture’s (QAIC) headquarters in Washington, D.C. played host to the Perfumery Symposium, a sensory celebration held in collaboration with the Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO). This unique event expanded upon the rich experiences and connections forged during QAIC’s 2023 Olfactory Delegation to Doha, offering participants a deep dive into the cultural significance of scents. 

With a diverse group of 30 participants and an array of dedicated instructors, attendees were in for a sensory treat. The “Journeys to Qatar” panel featured prominent figures such as Saskia Wilson-Brown, Rubia Chaudri, Micah Anderson, Jawad Khawaja, Razwan Ul-Haq, and Regina Mamou. They shared their insights and reflections on their experiences during the Olfactory Delegation, offering a glimpse into how these experiences have influenced their artistic practices. 

The “Ineffable Oud” panel, led by Micah Anderson and Jawad Khawaja of Oudimentary, delved into the historical and spiritual aspects of burning aromatics, with a particular focus on Oud, a precious aromatic resin with deep cultural and religious significance. The session provided a scent-enlivened journey, allowing participants to explore the psycho-spiritual dimensions of this aromatic resin. 

Saskia Wilson-Brown’s enthralling talk, “Five Smells that Shaped Us,” uncovered the intricate history of perfumery and its profound connection to humanity. From communication to healing, seduction, trade, and expressions of power, scent has played a central role in human history. 

For those seeking a more hands-on experience, an array of workshops awaited. In “The Scents of the Qur’anic Garden,” Rubia Chaudri led a exploration of aromatics mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet, offering participants a unique insight into the art of perfumery. 

Razwan Ul-Haq’s “Traditional Arabic Calligraphy” workshop unveiled the intriguing connection between traditional Arabic calligraphy and perfumes, showcasing how scent can be embedded in traditional and contemporary calligraphic work. 

Regina Mamou, in her “Tincturing for Artists” workshop, shared her unique art practice, which involves aromatic preservation. Participants learned about the tincturing process and the impact of scent on her art. Aromatic materials collected in Qatar served as a starting point for these creative endeavors. 

The Perfumery Symposium delivered a weekend of exploration and education, promising a sensory journey unlike any other. Participants delved into the captivating world of fragrance creativity, guided by QAIC and IAO, in an event that brought art and scent together in perfect harmony.