Mahmoud Labib — ‘the barber of presidents’

Egypt’s former President Anwar Sadat gets a haircut from Mahmoud Labib. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 30 May 2019

Mahmoud Labib — ‘the barber of presidents’

  • The Egyptian presidency called Mahmoud Labib to be the barber of President Anwar Sadat and then President Hosni Mubarak.
  • The barber visits Hosni Mubarak in hospital every two or three weeks to cut his hair

CAIRO: Mahmoud Labib, “the barber of presidents,” received this title under former Egyptian presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.

“Once, I shaved Sadat’s son in my shop, and afterward his father asked him for my name,” Labib told Arab News. “The presidency called me to be the barber of Sadat and then Mubarak.”

Over the decades, Labib has counted famous politicians, artists, writers, actors and businesspeople as customers.

“Anyone who sits in the chair of my barbershop is a client. Our duty is to do what they ask professionally. The same applies whether they’re a young boy or the president of Egypt, whom we’d visit to do the job,” he said.

“The first president whose hair I cut was Sadat. I traveled with him to Italy, America, France and Germany,” he added.

“Tel Aviv is the only trip on which I didn’t go with Sadat, and the last time I cut his hair was the day he was assassinated,” Labib said.

“I started my relationship with Mubarak when he was vice president, and his sons Alaa and Jamal came to me for a haircut,” he added. 

“My relationship with everyone is good, and I visit Mubarak in hospital every two or three weeks to cut his hair,” he said. “My relationship with (renowned Egyptian singer) Abdel Halim Hafez continued until his death (in 1977),” Labib added.

“I love the customer more than the money,” he said, adding that he has not met current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.


What We Are Reading Today: Busted in New York by Darryl Pinckney

Updated 16 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Busted in New York by Darryl Pinckney

This is a collection of essays that blend the personal and the social, from the celebrated literary critic and novelist.

Author Darryl Pinckney has written for The New York Review of Books for decades, and most of the 25 essays here appeared there first.

“In his two novels, Pinckney focused on the interior lives of his black characters in settings including Berlin, Chicago and Indianapolis, where Pinckney was raised. Here, he reveals himself to be a skillful chronicler of black experience in literary criticism, reportage and biography,” Lauretta Charlton said in a review for The New York Times.

“The crown jewel of this book is ‘Banjo,’ an essay that first appeared last year in the literary magazine Salmagundi. In it, Pinckney pinpoints a devastating irony of growing up in a privileged, intellectual milieu like his.

“The pressure to live up to his parents’ expectations led to its own kind of oppression, one he sought to escape by traveling to Europe but addresses head on in this essay, which captures his journey toward self-discovery.

Through race, Pinckney implies, we hide from each other and ourselves,” the review added.

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