Hair and beauty salons in Abu Dhabi reported a surge in demand from customers keen to look their best for Eid Al Fitr.
Businesses welcomed the healthy number of bookings after a challenging holiday period in 2020, which came during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Owners said the fact many staff were fully vaccinated or took regular PCR tests helped to raise public confidence in the industry.
In March, authorities announced unvaccinated employees at hotels, restaurants, transport companies, laundries, beauty salons and hairdressers would be tested every 14 days.
Salons strictly follow all other safety measures – such as wearing masks and gloves and thorough sanitisation of surfaces and products.
"Last year we opened only half of our branches and we were only allowed 30 per cent capacity," said Noor Al Tamimi, founder and chief executive of Bedashing Beauty Lounge, which has 16 branches across the UAE.
“It was still good. We have a strong reputation when it comes to hygiene and precautionary measures.
“This year, all of our branches are open and we are operating at 50 per cent – so it is really good. I cannot complain, and the consumer trust is good," Ms Al Tamimi said.
“Also last year many people were scared and uncertain. Now it is totally different.”
Zeina Assi is grateful for the upturn in business after a difficult 12 months.
“Last year, I opened occasionally, only for a limited number of customers,” said Ms Assi, owner of Rayyana salon in Abu Dhabi.
“We even received calls from undercover police who made fake appointments to make sure we weren’t breaking the rules.”
She was allowed to have four customers at a time, and operated for no more than six hours a day.
Last Eid Ms Assi suspended the henna home service she offered – it is traditional for local women to decorate their hands with henna for celebratory occasions – and cut her staff numbers from 10 to three.
But now she has cause for cautious optimism.
“Since Saturday we’ve been receiving customers until 2 or 3am. But it is not like before, we are still working at limited capacity," Ms Assi said.
Fatima Alr, 37, an Emirati mother of three, said while Eid Al Fitr has a different feel during the pandemic, she wanted to treat her family to a traditional make-over.
Ahead of Eid, she ordered home henna, manicure and pedicure services and for her daughters to have their hair trimmed.
"We will not be gathering outside our family home, but we felt like fixing ourselves anyway," said the government employee.
Roe Spa in Abu Dhabi, which provides home service for henna and other beauty treatments, had the misfortune of opening just weeks into the pandemic, in March last year.
“We did not know a pandemic was coming, we started preparing the business in February, and then when it started we were shocked,” said Bella Salinas, manager of the spa.
“It was the worst for us. We received only six orders for henna before Eid.
“So far, I have about 30 orders during this week alone,” she said on Monday.
They now have a client list of 300 women in Abu Dhabi city and its outskirts.
‘Now it is quite good, the regularity of customers. There are people we have known since day one of the pandemic, and they have been ordering our service throughout," she said.
"So we have built up trust. Our staff get tested for Covid-19 on the day they go to the customer, we update the WhatsApp group with all the clients on the day the results come out, and they start booking."