In Istanbul, tourists seek their dream mustache

Updated 30 January 2013
0

In Istanbul, tourists seek their dream mustache

Already known the world over for its baths, coffee and sweet Turkish delights, Turkey is on the road to adding another item to its roster of specialities: The mustache.
Lip whiskers remain a highly sought-after mark of manliness in Turkey and the Middle East to the point that the naturally less hairy are increasingly seeking out mustache transplants at the hands of Turkish cosmetic surgeons.
Among them is Selahattin Tulunay, head of a thriving private practice that once specialized in hair transplants but has been adapted to cater to the increasing demand for mustaches.
“I’ve been doing mustache implants for around three years now,” he said.
“A lot of men have come to see me saying ‘I’m 40 years old, I’m the head of a large company and no one takes me seriously abroad. I want people to see that I have hair’,” he added.
Only 30 years old, Engin Koc had long despaired of his clean-shaven face before he opted to go under the knife seven months ago and get the upper lip of his dreams. “I wanted to look like ancient Turks, like the Ottomans, and since I’m a nostalgic soul with an admiration for that era, I got the implants,” he said, calling the mustache “a symbol of Turkish virility.”
Mustaches have long been considered a serious matter in Turkey, with a popular saying stating that “a man without a mustache is like a house without a balcony.” The shape of the specimen even holds political meaning.
“The bushy style, like Stalin’s, is more the prerogative of the left or of Kurds,” said anthropologist Benoit Fliche from the French Institute of Anatolian Studies in Istanbul.
“When neater, like that of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it becomes religious and conservative.”
“And when it shoots down on both sides of the mouth like fangs, it’s a mark of the extreme right,” he added.
Although the bewhiskered look is winning over fewer Turks from the big cities — who are drawn more toward Western fashion — a mustache and beard remain a must for men from Arab countries or the Turkic republics of Central Asia, who journey over to Istanbul to satisfy their need for hair.
“The Turkish television series broadcast in the Arab world wield a great influence,” said Tulunay, adding that “it’s upon seeing our actors that these patients called on us for the same beard or the same mustache.”
These clients constitute the core of the new market for facial hair. In Istanbul alone, around 250 clinics or private practices are locked in fierce competition to sell their services, with promotions galore.




The majority are linked to travel agencies and offer package deals that include the operation, a hotel stay and airport pick-up.
The most competitive offer package deals starting at 2,000 euros ($ 2,700) that come with much more bang for the buck than their European or US counterparts.
Hair tourism is thus in full swing, fueled by a constant uptick in the number of foreigners visiting Turkey, with estimates suggesting more than 35 million people flocked there last year.
“Every week, we welcome 50 to 60 patients for a hair transplant and five to six for a mustache transplant, Istanbul Hair Center surgeon Meral Tala said.
“And as our results are now much better than before, we expect a large rise in demand.”


Mariam’s journey to North Pole ‘an inspiration for Saudi women’

Crossing the unwelcoming terrain of the North Pole is not for the faint-hearted. Mariam Hamidaddin’s brave and inspirational journey to the top of the earth was ended by the threat of frostbite. Reuters
Updated 20 May 2018
0

Mariam’s journey to North Pole ‘an inspiration for Saudi women’

  • Mariam Hamidaddin was one of 11 women from Europe and the Middle East taking part in the recent Women’s Euro-Arabian Polar Expedition, an initiative aimed to foster greater dialogue and inspire women to push their limits and fulfill their ambitions.
  • Two weeks later and Hamidaddin still could not feel her fingertips. She struggles to cut a steak and needs help to tie her shoelaces. Medics say it could be months or even years before she fully recovers.

LONDON: Mariam Hamidaddin was skiing toward the North Pole in temperatures as low as minus 38 C when she was advised by her team leader to give up on her dream and take a helicopter back to base camp.
She did so reluctantly. Frostbite had taken its toll on the Jeddah-born entrepreneur’s hands, but with no previous experience of such climates, Hamidaddin was unaware of the severity. Only when she was assessed by a Russian medic who spoke pidgin English did she appreciate how close she was to losing her fingers.
“The words he told me were: ‘No chop’ ... which was scary but also a great relief to hear,” said Hamidaddin, one of 11 women from Europe and the Middle East taking part in the recent Women’s Euro-Arabian Polar Expedition, an initiative aimed to foster greater dialogue and inspire women to push their limits and fulfill their ambitions. Team leader Felicity Aston deliberately chose women with no athletic or Arctic experience with the intention of demonstrating that anybody can achieve their goals with determination.
As Hamidaddin discovered, however, having an expert on hand helps. The transition from frostnip to frostbite can be a matter of five or 10 minutes, so it is essential for people in extreme weather to pay attention to their body. The tiniest sign can help avoid severe consequences.
The 32-year-old had followed all the instructions learned during training camps in Iceland and Oman: She kept moving to circulate her blood and had not removed her gloves even once in the Arctic. She felt pain, yes, but the entire team had frostnip, so why should she consider quitting?
Fortunately for her future — and her fingers — the decision was taken for her.

Mariam Hamidaddin was an inspirational member of the North Pole expedition before a doctor’s verdict cut her journey short.


“There was no proper moment where I realized I had frostbite,” Hamidaddin told Arab News after returning to the heat of Saudi Arabia. “If it was up to me, I would have wanted to continue, so I am extremely thankful that I was asked to evacuate because the frostbite gradually got worse and worse.
Basically, the team leader saved my fingers.”
Two weeks later and Hamidaddin still could not feel her fingertips. She struggles to cut a steak and needs help to tie her shoelaces. Medics say it could be months or even years before she fully recovers.
This month on her Instagram feed @InTuneToTheSound, she is posting photos of her journey in non-chronological order. The intention is to be “open and vulnerable and hopefully inspire people.” In a post, a video shows her typing at a computer using only her right pinky finger.
“There is a negative media perception of what a Saudi woman looks like and what she can and can’t do,” said Hamidaddin. “For this reason, it’s important for us to show that what you see in the media isn’t necessary a true reflection of who we truly are.
“It is also important to share our failures as well because when I see success upon success, I cannot connect with that. I am human, I have weakness and I fall, and I need to know that when I fall, I can rise again. Those stories are the ones that will connect most with people.”
With Saudi Arabia women now competing at the Olympic Games, being allowed to attend football matches at certain stadiums and the imminent lifting of a ban on driving, opportunities for women in the Kingdom are blossoming.
Hamidaddin, founder of the Humming Tree, a co-working space and community center that focuses on creativity and wellbeing, said she sees examples of strong, athletic and confident women every day.
“You can see them everywhere — women running, biking, climbing mountains,” she said.
“So we are already there. It’s just a matter of sharing these stories more. We are strong women; we know what we want and we find a way around it. We do what we need to do and we get it done. The fact that driving now is going to be open for us, just makes all that easier.”
Although Hamidaddin’s journey to the North Pole was cut short, the team’s doctor said she could wait out the expedition in the warmth of base camp and celebrate with her team when they reached their destination.
It was an opportunity that, even with frostbite, she was never going to turn down. What she found at the top of the world was a beautiful, dreamlike landscape — and, perhaps fittingly, a perpetual chase to reach her goal.
“Unlike the South Pole, which is a landmass, the North Pole is a constantly drifting landscape. It’s sea ice on top of the Arctic Ocean and it’s always moving, so you are constantly trying to catch it,” she said.
“One minute you’re on top of the world taking a photo and by the time you’re done taking it, well, the North Pole is a few miles away. You have to keep trying to catch it.”