Abu Dhabi // Sheikha Maryam sat patiently as an aesthetician pasted glitter and crystals on her hands. The two-year-old was getting the sparkly, temporary tattoos to celebrate her best friend's birthday, said Sanah Woodward, her 29-year-old mother. "When she saw it," said Mrs Woodward, "she started kissing her hand." The Abu Dhabi salon Henna Art began offering the decorations in October 2007 and reports that about half of its clients for the service are now toddlers and children.
"The crystals make the henna new and modern," said Hamda al Muhairi, one of the owners of the salon. "People never did it before." The designs can be either traditional or modern, using Swarovski crystals or coloured glitter. They usually last for about a week, cost Dh100 for adults and Dh60 for children, and can be applied in as little as five minutes. "We love henna, as Arab nationals," said Mrs Woodward, who emphasised that the experience is a special treat for little Sheikha.
"She will never have it every day or wear it all the time. She can have it whenever there is a nice, big event. An event that deserves to have henna." Rizan bin Khadra, a 27-year-old assistant corporate affairs officer with the Government, has a two-year-old boy and is expecting another child later this year. Although she would love one of the crystal tattoos for herself, she draws the line at letting her child get one.
"As a mother I can say that this will spoil our kids," said Mrs bin Khadra. "I would never let my child have accessories on the skin itself." * Alison McMeans