Huda Beauty founder Mona Kattan on having 4,000 fragrances: ‘Perfume’s part of your identity’


The co-founder and global president of Huda Beauty and star of reality TV show Huda Boss has more than 4,000 fragrances in her basement – a bespoke library that fills floor-to-ceiling bright-white shelves like a department store in a fever dream.

‘I’m trying to build the world record for the largest library but there’s a woman in Greece with 6,000 bottles, so I’ve got a long way to go,’ the 37-year-old says as she shows me around, via Zoom. This space, below her home in Dubai, used to be her gym before the perfume collection became too big to house in bathroom cabinets.

Each scent is, she believes, a work of art and tells a story. When she travels, perfume shopping is her number one priority. ‘I love perfume beyond words,’ she says. ‘Ever since I was a kid I would always spend pretty much all my money on perfume. I think I spend more than I make on perfume.’

It’s no surprise, then, that Mona’s career is fragrance-focused. Her brand, Kayali, has nine lines and she’s about to launch the latest – Vanilla Royale Sugared Patchouli 64 – which boasts notes of vanilla, oud, brown sugar, jasmine and golden rum.

Mona, who runs a YouTube channel and has 2.8 million followers on Instagram, has succeeded in making Kayali a cult brand largely on social media marketing alone. She’s come a long way from the 14-year-old who bought her first fragrance (Liz Claiborne’s Curve), from a Massachusetts pharmacy.

Mona was born in Oklahoma, US, the daughter of Iraqi parents, before moving to Dubai in her late teens. Here, her passion for perfume ‘skyrocketed’. ‘If you like perfume, it’s a candy land,’ she says of Dubai.

‘People here use it as so much more than an afterthought. It’s not something you do just when you go out. It’s something you do as part of your rituals: it’s how you start your day, it’s how you celebrate important moments, it’s part of your identity, it’s so much more than just a fragrance. I fell in love with the rituals that are part of my culture.’

Even then, at 17, seedlings for her future were taking root. ‘I thought, if I ever have my own brand one day I would love to create a perfume that celebrates Middle Eastern culture and makes it more global.’ Everything about Kayali, which launched in 2018, does just that.

The name means ‘my imagination’ in Arabic and speaks to the power of Mona’s emotions and memory. The bottles feature multiple diamond references and motifs typical of those found in souks across the Middle East. ‘They feel like treasure and made me feel like a princess,’ says Mona. ‘That’s what I wanted for my brand.’

People are a lot more open to experimenting and using perfume as a form of expression rather than just wearing the same fragrance for ten years,’ she says.

Mona also notes that in years gone by, commercially popular fragrances – those with a Hollywood A-lister fronting the advertising campaign – were what the masses aspired to. But this is not the case any more, especially with younger customers.

‘Gen Z do not want to be reminded of anyone else. They want to be unique – and I feel the same way.’

About the author

Add Comment

By Daisy

Get in touch

Content and images available on this website is supplied by contributors. As such we do not hold or accept liability for the content, views or references used. For any complaints please contact Use of this website signifies your agreement to our terms of use. We do our best to ensure that all information on the Website is accurate. If you find any inaccurate information on the Website please us know by sending an email to and we will correct it, where we agree, as soon as practicable. We do not accept liability for any user-generated or user submitted content – if there are any copyright violations please notify us at – any media used will be removed providing proof of content ownership can be provided. For any DMCA requests under the digital millennium copyright act
Please contact: with the subject DMCA Request.