5.1 C
New York

Scent-sational! Meet the FRANKINCENSE sommelier working at Shangri-La’s Oman hotels


You’d be forgiven for considering that the trend for frankincense was short-lived – forgotten about after the three smart men famously gifted it.

Removed from it.

Trade in frankincense flourished for hundreds of years, up until around 700AD in parts of the Middle East and Africa – and today is often burnt in households in Oman, a rustic that continues to be considered one of the important thing producers of the substance.

The fragrant resin also features within the hotels there run by Shangri-La, which even employs a ‘frankincense sommelier’ – Khalid Al Amri. Who’s no gimmick.

Khalid Al Amri is a ‘frankincense sommelier’ for Shangri-La’s hotels in Oman. He’s pictured here within the lobby of Shangri-La Al Husn, Muscat

He studied frankincense under the guidance of Canadian scholar Dr Patricia Groves – who has spent over 20 years researching and writing books about Oman’s heritage, arts and culture – and with Muscat’s National Museum of Oman and Bait Al Zubair Museum, a programme that also earned him the title of Culture and Heritage Ambassador for Shangri-La in Oman.

So, what does his role involve?

Khalid – who works at each of Shangri-La’s Omani resorts, Al Husn and Barr Al Jissah – said: ‘All my life I actually have been trying to find my calling and I actually have finally found it.

‘My role involves bringing our guests moments of joy by sharing stories and my knowledge of frankincense with others.

Khalid is pictured above in the frankincense garden at Shangri-La Al Husn resort

Khalid is pictured above within the frankincense garden at Shangri-La Al Husn resort


Shangri-La Al Husn's Sultanah restaurant

Shangri-La Al Husn’s Sultanah restaurant

COCKTAILS: The mixologist burns the frankincense over charcoal behind the bar after which captures the smoke in a closh and serves the cocktail in a closh to the guest (the smoke is within the closh).

CHICKEN DISH: Shangri-La Al Husn resort serves a dish at its ‘Sultanah’ restaurant (above) called ‘Sultanah’s Frankincense Free-Range Chicken’, using free-range grilled chicken, broccoli, sweet potato and a date chutney. The chicken is cooked over frankincense smoke on a charcoal grill on the table. 

‘It also brings me much happiness, as I’m obsessed with what I do.

‘I’m chargeable for overseeing the normal Omani welcome in our resorts, and I also lead guided tours on frankincense and the incredible architecture of our resorts in Oman.

‘As a part of this unique guest experience, Shangri-La Al Husn has its very own private frankincense garden with 21 frankincense trees that were planted back in 2019.

‘The garden is a spot where our guests can touch, smell and see frankincense in its natural form while staying with us.

‘We even have a Luban Spa [luban is Arabic for frankincense) where guests can take pleasure in Arabian oriental treatments and massages infused with frankincense oil.

‘Our restaurants and bars also feature cocktails and dishes featuring frankincense, corresponding to our Phoenix from the Flames cocktail, made with limoncello, pastis, bourbon, frankincense and orange.’

Khalid reveals that he advises the restaurants and bars on find out how to use frankincense in dishes and drinks – and the sort/grade that’s best suited.

The hotel plans ultimately to make use of the frankincense it grows in its spas, restaurants and bars, however the trees aren’t quite ready yet – ‘like a vineyard, they need time to mature’.

Khalid also advises guests about the most effective sorts of frankincense to purchase within the markets in capital city, Muscat – frankincense hunting is a preferred activity with locals and visitors alike.

Frankincense, explained Khalid, is an fragrant resin that originates from two most important species of trees – the Boswellia sacra and the Boswellia papyrifera – with Oman ‘home to the best frankincense globally’.

Shangri-La runs multiple luxury hotels in Oman, grouped together along the coast near Muscat (above)

Shangri-La runs multiple luxury hotels in Oman, grouped together along the coast near Muscat (above)

Shangri-La's Oman hotels (above) waft frankincense around the lobbies, and offer dishes and cocktails infused with the aromatic resin

Shangri-La’s Oman hotels (above) waft frankincense across the lobbies, and offer dishes and cocktails infused with the fragrant resin

Khalid continued: ‘Frankincense is an integral a part of Oman’s heritage. In the traditional world, frankincense was more useful than gold, and southern Oman just happened to be wealthy in frankincense.

‘Today, it’s commonly burnt at sunrise and sunset and it’s a key a part of the welcome experience in an Omani household.

‘While you welcome a guest into your property in Oman, you first burn frankincense to create a beautiful scent after which we provide our guests Arabic coffee and Arabic dates.

‘Growing up, my mother would burn half a kilogram of frankincense day by day to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in our house. And if I used to be not feeling well, my mother would boil Al Hojari frankincense in warm water, which is a high grade of frankincense that will be ingested for medicinal purposes.

‘Frankincense can also be used as a room scent, to dissipate kitchen smells and ward off any negative energy. 

Khalid said: ‘When you visit Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah or Shangri-La Al Husn (above), we have created an authentic Omani welcome experience'

Khalid said: ‘While you visit Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah or Shangri-La Al Husn (above), we have now created an authentic Omani welcome experience’

‘It’s well-known for its healing and restorative properties too, in addition to a perfume and as an aphrodisiac. The fragrant resin can also be used for ceremonial and celebratory occasions corresponding to during prayer and at weddings, and to make sure good health for a mother and child during childbirth.’

At Shangri-La’s Oman hotels, it doesn’t take guests long to familiarise themselves with the allure of frankincense.

Khalid said: ‘While you visit Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah or Shangri-La Al Husn, we have now created an authentic Omani welcome experience for our guests. As soon as you enter considered one of our two resorts, that are side by side on Oman’s beautiful coast, you’ll smell the sacred scent of frankincense, which we waft and disperse through the grand lobbies. You can even be greeted by either myself or considered one of my colleagues offering Arabic coffee and dates.’


Khalid explained: ‘There may be a special technique used to reap the frankincense from frankincense trees with a knife called a manqaf. The manqaf is used to make a cut within the tree’s trunk and the sap slowly oozes from the cut and drips out in tear-shaped droplets. The fragrant resin then hardens and is cut from the tree bark.’

Get the latest Sports Updates (Soccer, NBA, NFL, Hockey, Racing, etc.) and Breaking News From the United States, United Kingdom, and all around the world.

Related articles


Recent articles