Eid Al Fitr 2019: Dubai's henna artists thrive in the festive rush

The elaborate body dye is seen on the hands of thousands during the holiday season


Chathurika Samanmali, 25, puts henna on Mafia Shabbir, 28, her colleague, at Abeer Beauty & Henna salon in Baniyas.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter: Anna Zacharias
Section:  NA
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The staff at Royal Shahnaz Beauty Salon enjoyed the final moments of calm on Sunday afternoon. They knew the final countdown to Eid would soon begin and, with it, the rush to beautification.

They knew that Eid Al Fitr was fast approaching and, with it, the rush to beautification. After a month of fasting and focusing on the spiritual, the atmosphere is changing to one of celebration.

Women avoid make-up and nail polish during Ramadan, but Eid is a time to dazzle.

For men, that means a trip to the barber for a trim, and maybe an ear waxing, and for women it might be a new hairdo or a bright set of nails.

“For Eid, you do extra because this whole month you’re out of everything and dedicated to praying,” said Nazia Ali Khan, 34, a Royal Shahnaz customer who travelled from Deira to Karama for a hair appointment.

Everyone is heading back to full form and to all those things they have been craving all month

“Everyone is heading back to full form and to all those things they have been craving all month. There is henna and people are putting colour back into dresses because it’s a time of celebration.”

Seeing to Ms Al Khan's thick tresses was Nazia Rana, a self-taught henna artist and beautician who moved to Dubai from Pakistan five years ago after the death of her husband.

For Ms Rana, Eid unites two blessings: work and family. Eid is the busiest time at beauty parlours and Ms Rana will work until 3am tomorrow.  

But this year she has some support because her daughter has joined her from Pakistan for Eid. While Ms Rana dyes hair, waxes eyebrows and applies henna, her daughter will prepare an Eid feast.

“Tomorrow night will be a full day and I’ll be tired, but when I see her face, I’m happy,” Ms Rana said.

The mother and daughter were apart for many Eids because Ms Rana left her with relatives when she moved to Dubai.

Beauty salons such as Royal Shahnaz provide thousands of jobs for women who are supporting their extended families.

Separation was painful, but Ms Rana always considered the opportunity to support her daughter a blessing.

“I am independent. That is a blessing God gave me,” she said. “You need not depend on other people – if you work hard, then God is giving and by your side.”

The small street in Karama is one of Dubai’s salon hot spots and attracts people from all over the city.

Next door at Eclipse Style Gents Salon, Jithesh Vasudevan kept his friend company while his face was covered in a yellow gloop.

“This is for Eid,” Mr Vasudevan said. “He’s actually going back to India. When people go to the mosque for prayers, they have to look good because it will be a huge gathering.”

The two friends relaxed in the barber chairs, knowing that in a day’s time, the Eid rush would begin.