Amna Al Habtoor, Founder of Arcadia by Amna Discusses Her Special UAE Collection

Lindsay Judge   |   04-12-2021

Amna Al Habtoor founded her fragrance company in 2015 with the wish of creating unique perfumes that capture memorable moments in people’s lives.


More than just a scent her fragrances are designed to create memories and associations that will last for generations. Created here in the UAE her scents are fully homegrown and often inspired by the nature and surroundings of the Emirates. Amna recently expanded her offering to home fragrance as part of her Out of the Darkness series to bookmark the internal struggles faced during the 2020 pandemic. Comprising a series of three candles each inspired by real-life experiences, the fragrances represent a light at the end of the tunnel as we come out of these turbulent times. As Amna prepares to launch something special in 2022 we find out more about her ambitions for the future and her pride in her country.


Tell us about the past 18 months at Arcadia by Amna, have you changed anything about the business since the beginning of the pandemic?

The pandemic has been a struggle for most of us, but now I think we have almost recovered from the troubles of 2020. At Arcadia, we utilised the past 18 months to look back and reflect on what our plans should be and what exactly should we launch next.


We know you recently launched a home fragrance range, tell us about this and why did you decide to diversify into this category?

My ultimate goal is to build and establish Arcadia as a lifestyle brand, so it’s only fitting to start by expanding into a home fragrance line with locally produced candles as part of the Out of the Darkness series. This range bookmarks the internal struggles faced during the 2020 pandemic and the subsequent light at the end of the tunnel as we emerge from these turbulent times. Each candle is centred around a narrative of real experiences and all of the narratives are relatable during these testing times. The poetic description for the range of candles is built from the context of feeling enclosed, recurring incidents and not being heard – something I am sure everyone can relate to on some level.



Tell us about the partnership with the Noor Dubai Treatment Programme, why did you decide to partner with this particular cause?

We recently partnered with Noor Dubai on a fragrance named Unity. I’ve always said that we take our senses for granted and I wanted this collaboration to underscore the sense of havoc and confusion created when losing one of our senses, yet being anchored by the others.


The labels and box sleeves are written in braille, while the perfume itself is inspired by Noor Dubai’s branding and coloured in a shade of blue. 20 per cent of all sale proceeds will be donated to the Foundation. Ultimately, when we all understand the struggles of a visually impaired person, our humanity unites our vision for better days. I’m so proud to be supporting a UAE charity with the mission of fighting blindness worldwide.


What else is in the pipeline for the coming year at Arcadia?

We have a very exciting launch at the start of 2022, I’m so proud and honoured to be able to have an opportunity that’s going to take Arcadia to the next level! Unfortunately, I can’t tell you more until due course!


This month we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UAE, what does this occasion mean to you?

The UAE’s 50th anniversary marks the country’s Golden Jubilee. I’m especially proud of this milestone which is why we have created a limited-edition collection – the Year 50 collection which includes a fragrance called Auric, Bakhoor, named Spirit and Midkhan (Bakhoor incense burner), named Soul. We have also collaborated with local artist Khalid Mezaina who will be featuring exclusive dedicative art on a set number of Midkhans.


“Auric’s” top notes are floral with middle notes of musk and pear. The bottom note is amber with a touch of spicy and fruity notes. “Spirit” is made with a blend of Indian oud, musk, rose water, amber and saffron. “Soul” is a midkhan which really stands out as a design piece. It’s made from recycled cement and steel.


What is a message that you would send to your country on this occasion?

Thank you for all the heights you’ve reached. In such a short time, the UAE has gained a well-deserved spot on the global stage for all the right reasons. Our nation is built on strong foundations such as tolerance, collaboration, comfort, luxury, beauty and responsiveness.



What is your fondest memory of the UAE from your childhood?

My fond memories of the UAE are many and the simpler moments are extremely dear to me. Memories like walking to our nearest “Baqala” to buy our favourite candies or playing with the neighbourhood friends are so special to me and I hope my children get the chance to have these simply beautiful experiences.


How will you be celebrating the 50th anniversary?

I will be watching the live stream of the December 2nd celebration at home with my family. My children are very curious so I will definitely be answering a lot of questions about the UAE!


What do you think the UAE has that no other country possesses?

I’ve travelled across the world and stayed in many different countries for weeks on end, but the hospitality we have here is something unmatched. I’m not talking just about the hospitality in hotels, I also mean the hospitality we share with guests in our own homes. I truly believe this is one of our core values that makes the UAE so unique from the rest of the world.



Where would you like to see the UAE in another 50 years?

Simply put, I’d love to see the UAE continue on its current journey and become the best country to live in by all standards.


As a busy woman, how do you balance your time?

It is very difficult but I plan my weeks. Everyone who knows me, knows I’m all for scheduling and planning way in advance. It’s the only thing I can do to ensure I balance all aspects of my life from family to work.


What is the biggest challenge you face in what you do?

My constant challenge is creating fragrances that are not only nostalgic for me, but also for whoever smells them. It’s also particularly challenging to create scents that speak to emotions and memories, more than anything.


What is something you would still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?

On a professional level, it would be my best achievement to open up stores internationally, especially in New York and Tokyo as these are two cities that are very dear to me.


What is the personal motto that you live by?

“Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear” Surah Baqarah, 2:286 from the Quran as it always gives me strength to persevere in the toughest of times.