Perfumed Memoirs: Amouage Dia and Frankincense

Amouage Dia | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Amouage Dia | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

The rugged rocky mountain terrain, the tranquil beach with fishing boats, the endless dunes disappear into the Empty Quarter, and the oasis, the water sparkling in the desert’s light. They are the images of Oman I remember. I used to live in the desert city of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, adjoining to Al Buraimi, an oasis town of Oman. At weekends, we used to venture into the deserts and wadis  (dry river beds) to enjoy their harsh but unspoilt natural beauty.

When I lived there, I wasn’t at all a fan of the Middle Eastern perfumes. Occasionally I trotted into some Arabic perfume shops in the malls but I couldn’t find the one I liked. All the perfumes I smelled in the shops or on people were too gooey and hideously resiny… That was the impression I got until I came across Amouage Dia Pour Femme.

I wasn’t aware of the “pedigree” of this perfume when I had my first sniff. All I knew was its connection to Oman. On the way home from the mall, I kept smelling and smelling my wrist, admiring its sheerness and the dewy-ness of this fragrance. It felt like an “Arabic” fragrance but it was so much lighter… and more complicated. The aldehydic opening was like a dawn; bright and cheerful .Then the lustrous florals, swirling up to reach to the limitless sky. By the time I got home, the revitalising woody notes started to unfold… and, gosh, that was the best part for me.

Oasis | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Oasis | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

In the desert, after the spring rain, the wildflowers start blooming all at once. Tiny yellow Arabian primrose, desert campion, desert hyacinth and wild carnation…  They all appear in abundance, forming a luminous floral carpet on the otherwise barren sand. It is a bright, joyful and uplifting sight. It is all about the celebration of life – and that’s how I felt about Amouage Dia. The discovery of this fragrance among the heavy perfume oils was like the finding of an oasis hidden in the monotonous sand dunes.

I went back to the mall next day to smell Dia again. The nice guy at the perfume shop explained to me about the Omani royal family and Amouage connection and the facts about frankincense over a strong cup of cardamom dosed coffee.

A few months later, I had an opportunity to visit Sir Bani Yas Island, an animal sanctuary island in the Arabian Gulf. There, among the freely roaming endangered Arabian wildlife species, I unexpectedly stumbled across the frankincense tree for the first time in my life. I don’t know what I was expecting but this legendary tree didn’t look too impressive; it looked rather tattered.

Sir Bani Yas Island | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Sir Bani Yas Island | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

“The paler the better…” Like a mantra, the words by the perfume shop guy echoed in my head. I lustily scraped and collected the small beaded resin off the tree without really knowing what I would do with them next. I wanted to burn some as incense but other than that, I had no idea what I could or should do with the rest. But fate, in the shape of a parakeet, decided for me.

While I was getting rid of sand from my travel bag back home, I casually placed the frankincense resin in a small plastic bag and put it on the windowsill, and then went into the house to make some coffee. I heard a bang and a squawk. Looking out of the window, all I could see was the bright green feathers flying away into the next door’s palm trees. The plastic bag wasn’t on the sill anymore.

So, here I am, gathered a bagful “quality” frankincense in the burning sun, never got to smell a whiff of it. My first bottle of Dia has long gone and to this day, I haven’t had a chance to smell burning frankincense.

Nose: Jean-Claude Ellena


Top: Bergamot, Fig, Tarragon, Cyclamen, Sage, Violet Leaves

Middle: Orange Blossom, Orris Root, Rose, Peach Blossom, Peony

Base: Frankincense, Gaiac Wood, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Heliotrope, Vanilla, White Musk

It is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum, £170.00 from Amouage.

Read what others are saying about Dia: I Smell Therefore I Am, The Non-Blonde, Australian Perfume Junkies, Suzanne’s Perfume Journal.

Disclosure: The review is based on the bottle I used to own.

29 thoughts on “Perfumed Memoirs: Amouage Dia and Frankincense

  1. Great story…why, you have lived in a lot of places. And how cool to come across frankincense ‘in the wild’. I have happy associations with Dia as a decant was given to me by a perfumista friend in Switzerland, but – a long time afterwards, and if my memory serves me – I ended up passing it along to Undina, who liked this scent more than me. And I have not quite burnt frankincense either, but only because on the day my friend and I planned to do exactly that, with the crystals all set in the burner, we managed to crush my finger in the window we were opening to let the smoke out. Ooops!

  2. So funny, I wore Dia Homme today! I loved your story and how cool is that to come upon a frankincense tree! Sorry you had to lose it though…but that says to me that you need to go on another adventure and find some more 🙂

  3. Yukiko, this is a charming story about how Dia came into your life … it’s funny, reading it and thinking about the way perfume is applied in the Middle East, I have this picture in my head of columns of smoke parting (like the proverbial parting of the mists) to reveal this silky-yet-intricate floral perfume. Now that your bottle is gone, do you think you’ll purchase it again, or are there too many new loves for it to contend with now?

    I also enjoyed your story of how the parakeet made off with your frankincense tears. Great reading, beautiful drawing, and thank you so kindly for the link!

    • Hi Suzanne. When I was living in the Middle East, so many occasions I had to walk through the columns of smoke… usually at the malls. They love to burn overwhelming amount of incense, usually oud, at the top of the escalators.
      At this moment I’m using a decant but I’ll probably get another full bottle again. 🙂

  4. So the parakeet got the best of the magpie that time it seems. Lol. That’s something I could see happening to me. I hope you get a chance to smell the real thing sometime soon. I don’t believe I’ve ever smelled Dia, at least not knowingly. I was sniffing Amouage bottles at Osswald’s but it was very unfocused sniffing and I wasn’t reading labels.

    • Yes, parakeet 1 – 0 magpie. Darn thieving parakeet… They really were pain in the neck, actually. So many times they stole my dried dates and figs off the table I used to have in my courtyard. I wonder what happened to my frankincense… I’m sure they didn’t eat them.

  5. I loved the story! And the drawing. And also thought that there was some irony in the fact that it was a parakeet who stole something from magpie 🙂

    I think that Dia is a beautiful perfume and I will get a bottle of it once I’m done with the decant (thank you, Vanessa) and a sample that I’ve got. Dia is very “me”, probably my third favorite Amouage after Ubar and Gold. Well… I’m not sure where Lyric stands. But definitely one of my most favorite four.

    I’ve never seen or burnt frankincense and after what happened to you and Vanessa I’m thinking maybe that was for the best… 😉

    • Thank you Undina! I haven’t had a chance to try Ubar yet but if it’s one of your favourites, I’d love to have a sniff! I love Gold as well but I’m more drawn to “quieter” Dia.
      There’s definitely some kind force working against us burning frankincense. 😀 But you might be better at this than us!

  6. Hi TM – late but present. :). I don’t recall having tried Dia, but I must have done. Nevertheless I will go spritz some next week and resniff! I am not a fan of frankincense, not really. I find it a bo depressing. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like a tree of the stuff though! I like many of the Amouages but don’t love them. I have a bottle of Ubar which I rarely wear. I need to crack that out again and see. Hugs. xxxxx

    • Depressing! That’s a new portrayal of frankincense. I actually like its musty, reminding me of a crypt kind of smell. 😀
      By the way, today I tried three of your goodies (Opus II, Seven Veils and Rubj EDP). My sense of smell is finally coming back and they were a lovely wake up call. Thank you!!

  7. Me even later… parakeet 1 – 0 magpie hehe! You’re a bad reputation for magpies you know, no longer the thieving magpie… I love the bottle illustration, is the background done by you as well? Really nice 🙂
    I basically just worked out that I’m very allergic to the smoke of incense 😦 Smoke on a whole, but especially incense, still I feel very sorry for you, it sounds like such an amazing experience.
    I need to check if I have a DIA sample, apart from Gold and Opus V, the Amouages do strange things on my skin, or perhaps I’m just weird. I keep trying though, but those are the only two I truly enjoy.
    Do you want to repuchase it you think, or is your taste different now?

    • Oh and ps, isn’t it just such a lovely gesture to be given coffee (to drink I mean) in a perfume shop? Jovoy in Paris does that too, it makes you feel instantly welcomed

    • I demand the world to change the phrase “thieving magpie” to “thieving parakeet”!!
      Yes, the background is mine as well: if you look closely, there are magpies on the vines. 🙂

      How sad about the smoke and incense! Good job you are not living in the Middle East! I do enjoy incense in both perfume and smoke form and I can’t imagine not being able to enjoy them. I’ll probably buy another FB. I feel so comfortable wrapped up in this fragrance. 😉

      • Fortunately I haven’t yet noticed a problem with incense in perfume. I noticed the problem at a catholic service… So I suppose I landed in the right, (protestant- non-incensy) country 🙂
        Or how about ‘thieved magpie’ 😉
        Very nice, I did notice the magpies but wasn’t sure, because it seemed another texture. Very beautiful.

  8. A beautiful review based on a fabulous personal story! The best kind of perfume review! Love that the cheeky parrot took your incense, must have been very attractive stuff. Now I have to try Dia, you make it sound amazing. 🙂

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