Saudi woman barber brushes off taboo

Saudi woman barber brushes off taboo
Wafaa Sakr styles a child's hair. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 September 2020

Saudi woman barber brushes off taboo

Saudi woman barber brushes off taboo
  • After viral video, Wafaa Sakr says ‘no one can stand in the way of ambition’

MAKKAH: A Saudi children’s hair stylist has become the first woman to break into the profession, which has long been an exclusively male domain.

Wafaa Sakr, who appeared in a viral video inside a barber shop in Taif, said she styles children’s hair, but does not cut men’s hair.

She said the salon, inside a Taif mall, has been closed due to the non-renewal of its license, but will soon resume its activities after renewal by the local municipality.

Sakr has worked as a hair stylist for many years and saw in her work a great importance in caring for people, especially children, “whose hearts are filled with real happiness after seeing their haircut, which can paint a permanent smile on their faces.”

Known as the Taif barber, she said her presence as a female barber is a new phenomenon, and sometimes unwelcome by a society used to seeing women in government jobs, like teaching or nursing.

Saudi society has not realized that women can work in all fields with competence and efficiency, she said.

“My profession made my life a state of constant challenge with myself, especially since I have been a professional hairdresser for many years,” she told Arab News.

The job became a source of income for her and her family and she excelled in creating modern looks for young boys and girls, which eventually forged her reputation as the best barber in Taif.

“I feel happy and proud that I, as a Saudi woman, broke into the labor market. I did not wait for a job to knock on my door. Any person can create jobs, develop them and hold on to them, and it is an honorable profession,” she said.

“I am still practicing this profession for a monthly income in return, but I am thinking of establishing my own business that I manage myself in the future. If a person has ambition, no one will be able to stand in their way. What is important is taking steps to reach our goals instead of backing down,” she added.

Sakr said she disagreed with the sentiment that Saudi women should not be “forced” to work certain jobs.

“Why not? The doors to livelihood are open in all fields, and people should not be ashamed of their profession, as long as they practice it, love it and it generates an income for them,” she said.

“Some ideas must change. We are going through a dramatic era in which energies and competencies must be invested. Society does not only want engineers, doctors and pilots, society needs all its worker components” Sakr added.

“The labor market is filled with different people from different races that have different customs, who are building their societies with their own hands, and they are proud of that,” she said.