Sunday, May 4, 2008

Only Skin Deep

beauty salon
This posting is for my sisters, with the purpose of enticing them to visit me here. One of my infrequent indulgences in Doha, which amazingly is not related to food, is frequenting a beauty salon.

The beauty business is booming here. You see a multitude of beauty salons in every neighborhood. In high end precincts they are exclusive and elaborate, extremely well staffed, and of course, expensive. The mid to lower end neighborhoods have slightly lower priced ones. The services offered are also varied. In the areas dominated by expats, the services are according to their needs, while mainly Arab areas have their own specialties. But basic services are the same, with something for everyone. Price wise, when I compare them to the salons in the US, they are much more affordable, hence my penchant for patronizing them on an occasional basis.

So my dear sisters, I have it all planned out. We will start off with a facial, then get a relaxing foot massage, then a manicure and pedicure, afterwards we may move on to a head massage complete with shampoo, blow dry and styling … The services offered are numerous, but I will not divulge any more secrets. But rest assured, I have not turned into Miss Universe – yet.

These beauty salons are also, similar to their counterparts throughout the world, a place to socialize. I have often seen groups of women coming in with the intention of spending the greater part of the day there. After settling in, they may also order food from nearby restaurants as well. These salons are mainly owned, managed and exclusively staffed by women and are strictly off limits to men. They are very private, often with curtains at the doors and windows, along with ‘No Men” signs posted at the entrance. Therefore it is a place where women, especially Arab and other Muslim women who observe purdah and wear the abaya (black robes) and specifically the naqaab (veil), feel comfortable.

Having said all this, I do however wish to discuss a little about the women who work there. They are all expats, primarily from India, Nepal, and the Philippines, with a few Arabs, mainly from Lebanon. There is also a hierarchy system in place; the Indian and Nepali women have their specialties, the Filipinos theirs, while the Arabs have their own set of skills.

I have befriended a few of these women. All have left their families and loved ones back in their countries and have come to work, solely with the purpose of sending money back home to support them. Many have children who they have not seen in a long time, often years. Many are also the single bread winner in their family. They usually come on a 2 year work visa, which often gets extended. They are paid low wages and work 7 days a week, 13-14 hours a day. These hours are even longer during the holidays and wedding seasons. So, anyone reading this post who frequents these salons please do try to tip these women if you can. It will stretch their earnings a bit farther and make their day a little brighter, as they are making ours.

1 comment:

Georgia Peach said...

Although I'm not Arabic, there is something to NO MEN I could get use to. I've never been offended by the need to share facilities of any kind with men. I believe women need their own space and privacy. The American gym has become a horrible place to visit because women only gyms no longer exist.