Saudis embrace curly look in post-pandemic hair revolution

Hessah Al-Sharif is a hair specialist and founder of Curl Boutique, the first salon in Jeddah to focus on natural, curly hair. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 August 2021
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Saudis embrace curly look in post-pandemic hair revolution

  • COVID-19 lockdowns sparked trend toward natural beauty in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic lockdowns have brought about many changes in daily health and beauty routines with many Saudis opting for a more natural look.

And the enforced closure of hair salons in particular has resulted in millions of people adopting new approaches to managing their tresses.
For many Saudis, haircare has become a source of therapy and experimentation, changing their relationship with their locks in ways they could never have imagined.
Ameera Hassan, 25, from Jeddah, told Arab News that she had been hiding her tight, springy, natural curls for the past 10 years with straightening chemical treatments.

Our image as people with beautiful natural curls is always used as the before picture in salon advertisements for chemical treatments, and these photos are being posted online over social media and on printed banners at salons. I wanted to reverse that, and that is what I’m doing.

Hessah Al-Sharif

“Not going to a salon for months was a terrifying experience for me. I have hated my hair from a very young age, but the global trend toward natural hair due to the pandemic gave me a sense of solidarity and the confidence to accept my big hair,” she said.
Another convert to the natural hair movement, Sarah Ahmad, 28, also from Jeddah, said: “The lockdown experience left me with no choice but having to deal with my natural hair texture, and working from home gave my oppressed curls a break from the flatiron.
“For many years I thought my hair was frizzy, however, it turns out it is just curly. I would never have discovered that without lockdown. I had never been alone with my natural hair for so long and it allowed me to experiment and discover different products, treatments, and routines for my hair texture. It’s been a learning curve for sure.
“I’ve learnt that it isn’t just hair, it is part of who I am, how I was truly meant to look,” she added.
During the past year, social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram along with regional online influencers have been the inspirational driving forces behind the curly hair style revolution.
And a shortage of hair products in local markets has prompted some entrepreneurs to set up their own internet businesses selling items such as brushes, microfiber towels, shampoos, conditioners, gels, foams, silk and satin pillowcases, and bonnets.
Many people have found the freedom of going natural to be more appealing and healthier for their hair, a trend that has brought about genuine diversity in the global and regional beauty industry, including in Saudi Arabia.

HIGHLIGHTS

• For many Saudis, haircare has become a source of therapy and experimentation, changing their relationship with their locks in ways they could never have imagined.

• During the past year, social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram along with regional online influencers have been the inspirational driving forces behind the curly hair-style revolution.

• And a shortage of hair products in local markets has prompted some entrepreneurs to set up their own internet businesses selling items such as brushes, microfiber towels, shampoos, conditioners, gels, foams, silk and satin pillowcases, and bonnets.

Hessah Al-Sharif is a hair specialist and founder of Curl Boutique, the first salon in Jeddah to focus on natural, curly hair.
She decided to move away from the straight hair standard offered by many salons and beauty centers in the Kingdom, preferring to encourage the younger generation to embrace their natural beauty.
After receiving professional training in cutting curly hair at the DevaCurl Academy in New York, Al-Sharif opened her boutique during the pandemic.
“I started with an Instagram page where I shared curly hair care tips, recommended products, and posted reviews; however, people kept asking me where in Jeddah they could get their hair cut and I didn’t have an answer.”
Similar to many other women with curly hair in Saudi Arabia, she found herself bombarded with recommendations for treatments to straighten her hair when visiting salons or was given the option of a wet cut which she pointed out was not the best way to manage big hair.
She said: “While a lot of businesses were badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, I was affected in a positive way. Around 70 percent of my current clients just started their transition journey to natural hair during the pandemic.
“Our image as people with beautiful natural curls is always used as the before picture in salon advertisements for chemical treatments, and these photos are being posted online over social media and on printed banners at salons. I wanted to reverse that, and that is what I’m doing.”
Al-Sharif also aims to make natural hair products and services affordable to all by promoting local brands.
And it is not just women who have been embarking on the curly hair journey.
Abdullah Sami, 30, said: “My experience is more intimate than going natural. I was going through the anxiety about what was happening during the pandemic and the stress it had imposed on my professional, educational, and personal life. So, exerting effort on taking care of my hair was an attempt to ensure that I had everything under control and an escape to overcome everything.”
And he would never go back to having short hair. “My hair now is an extension of me, of who I am, of my personal experience, and I wouldn’t ever accept cutting it again. It gives a completely different impression when you start growing out your hair. It’s a personal statement,” he added.
Sami’s hair transition experience encouraged his sisters to try out new hair styles too.


First phase of 2024 Hajj security plans completed

Updated 16 June 2024
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First phase of 2024 Hajj security plans completed

MAKKAH: Col. Talal bin Abdulmohsen Al-Shalhoub, security spokesperson at the Ministry of Interior, announced during a daily press conference for the 2024 Hajj season the successful completion of the first phase of security plans to lead pilgrims from Makkah to subsequent holy sites.

After spending around 12 hours in Arafat on Saturday for the most important part of Hajj, the over 1.8 million worshippers officially moved to the rocky plains of Muzdalifah in preparation for the final stages of their Hajj.

“The second stage of the journey to the holy sites is currently being implemented to transport pilgrims from Arafat to Muzdalifah, where they will be spending the night before departing to Mina for Eid Al-Adha,” said Al-Shalhoub.

He added that 25 persons found to be violating Hajj regulations were arrested on the night of June 15 for transporting 103 individuals without Hajj permits.

“The Unified Security Operations Centers (911) in Makkah received 52,274 calls from June 14 to 15. These calls varied between security reports, inquiries, and service calls from pilgrims,” he said.

Speaking on the journey to Muzdalifah, Ayed Al-Ghuwaynem, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj Affairs said: “The tranquility and comfort we witnessed today in Arafat enabled the pilgrims to perform rituals and devote themselves to worship and supplication.”

He added that the smooth operations were the fruit of early planning and collective governmental action.

“This was the result of distinguished cooperation from pilgrims’ affairs offices from all countries, as well as pilgrims’ service providers inside and outside the Kingdom,” said Al-Ghuwaynem.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulali, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said that over 112,000 pilgrims have received health care from different providers during the Hajj season, including clinics, emergency departments, hospitals, and intensive care units.


Mashaer metro system transports thousands of pilgrims from Mina to Arafat

Updated 16 June 2024
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Mashaer metro system transports thousands of pilgrims from Mina to Arafat

  • There are 17 trains in the Mashaer metro fleet, each capable of carrying 3,000 passengers

MAKKAH: Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims used the Mashaer metro system to travel from Mina to Arafat on Saturday, as they began the most important day of the Hajj pilgrimage.

The metro system consists of nine stations located across the holy sites, connected by an 18-kilometer double-track railway, and is capable of accommodating 72,000 passengers per hour in one direction. The journey from Mina to Arafat takes just 20 minutes, with the train traveling at 80 km per hour, according to a report by the Saudi Press Agency.

There are 17 trains in the Mashaer metro fleet, each capable of carrying 3,000 passengers. The eco-friendly electric trains significantly reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions by replacing approximately 50,000 passenger buses during the Hajj season.

The trains are managed the Facilities Security Forces, under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior.

Khalil Hasan, an Egyptian pilgrim, said he is performing Hajj for the second time.

“The first time I performed Hajj was nearly 30 years back when I was a schoolteacher in Yanbu. Everything here has unbelievably changed, including the Jamarat Bridge.“Seeing the metro travelling between stations in the holy sites was a wonderful scene that added great glamor to the place and substantial enhancement to the many services provided by the kingdom,” Hasan said.

Previously, he added, he could not have imagined that a pilgrim would be able to reach Arafat from Mina within minutes.

Hasan’s lifelong friend, AbdulTawab, who is accompanying him on the spiritual journey, said that it is his first Hajj experience, and he was amazed by the metro service.

“It is wonderful, and I am grateful to the Kingdom for this metro that has facilitated the movement of pilgrims, especially the elderly, making it easy and comfortable to move from one place to another within the holy places,” he said.


Pilgrims prepare for the final stages of Hajj

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pilgrims prepare for the final stages of Hajj

  • Pilgrims spent the night in Muzdalifah, under the open sky, where they took the time to rest and refresh

MAKKAH: Hajj pilgrims have begun preparing for the final stages of this year’s pilgrimage, arriving in Muzdalifah after spending the entire day performing prayers and supplications in Arafat.

After they arrived in Muzdalifah, pilgrims performed Maghrib and Isha prayers and collected pebbles for the stoning rituals at the Jamarat area in Mina, which begin Sunday morning.

These stones are used once they reach Mina, where pilgrims perform the “first throwing” of Jamarat, before heading to the Grand Mosque in Makkah for tawaf (circumambulation) and “sacrificing the lamb,” a commemoration of the sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim had intended to make of his son Ismail as an act of obedience to Allah.

Pilgrims spent the night in Muzdalifah, under the open sky, where they took the time to rest and refresh.

The first day in Mina, the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, marks the first day of Eid Al-Adha. On this day, pilgrims sacrifice animals. Male pilgrims have their heads shaved and take off their ihram clothes. Female pilgrims cut only a portion of their hair.

Hisham Thamin, an Indian pilgrim living in Qatar, told Arab News that it had been a seamless Hajj experience.

“It’s a very nice (and) very spiritual feeling. I’m enjoying the vibes here. The people here are very calm. It’s a very peaceful atmosphere.”

Thamin said that he was initially concerned about the arrangements given the heat and high numbers of people, but he was pleasantly surprised by the coordination and organization by the Saudi government.

“I’m glad the Saudi government has made very good arrangements. There’s cold water, cold juices, and breakfast boxes for everyone. They have spread out all the sheets on the sand, to make sure it’s comfortable for everyone. So I’m liking it very much. And it’s not what I expected, it’s much better than what I expected.”

Nawaf Alhabib, a Saudi pilgrim, said his experience had been “perfect.”

Alhabib planned to walk to Mina on Sunday morning before Fajr prayer.

“By 12 in the morning, we will finish from Muzdalifah and make our way towards Mina. We will rest and then perform Jamarat and it will hopefully be a beautiful day tomorrow.”

Saudi pilgrim Tawfeeq Alquraishi said he was proud of the developments and initiatives fulfilled by the Kingdom.

“The services provided to ensure a smooth Hajj experience for pilgrims is something I am so proud of as a Saudi national. This is a successful and comfortable Hajj.”

Waleed Mohammed, a pilgrim from Egypt, was grateful for being able to perform Hajj.

“This is a feeling I cannot explain. Thank God for everything,” he said. “This is an experience that everyone dreams of … everyone is happy and the organization is beyond our expectations.”


225 pilgrims treated for heat stress and fatigue on second day of Hajj

Updated 16 June 2024
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225 pilgrims treated for heat stress and fatigue on second day of Hajj

  • The cases were treated at the Medical Center for Heat Exhaustion and Sunstroke 

MAKKAH: About 225 cases of pilgrims suffering from heat stress and fatigue had been treated at the medical center for heat exhaustion and sunstroke in Makkah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The cases were reported on Saturday, the second day of Hajj, when pilgrims ascended Mount Arafat to ask God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the Hill of Mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. 

 

Medics at the center for heat exhaustion and sunstroke in Makkah attend to a heat stroke victim on Saturday. (SPA)

The center, affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs, has 20 beds equipped with the latest equipment to deal with cases of heat stress and sunstroke.

It is also equipped with an air and water spray system using sprinklers to cover all parts of the injured person’s body, in addition to clinics for men and women and a pharmacy.

Saudi officials had earlier advised pilgrims to use umbrellas and keep themselves hydrated, and to take rest periods between rituals to avoid heat fatigue. 

The National Center for Meteorology had forecast that temperatures in Makkah would range between 45 C and 48 C, with little rain potential.

 


Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide

Updated 16 June 2024
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Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide

  • The translated sermons promote peace, coexistence and a deeper understanding of Islam

ARAFAT: The Arafat sermon delivered on Saturday at Namira Mosque in Makkah was projected to reach a staggering 1 billion listeners around the world, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The sermon was translated live into 20 languages as part of the groundbreaking initiative launched by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in 2018. There were also non-simultaneous translations into 17 other languages.

Led by the Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the project serves as a cornerstone in spreading the message of moderation and centrism espoused by the holy sites, SPA said.

“The translated sermons promote peace, coexistence, and a deeper understanding of Islam — a religion built on mercy, tolerance, and peaceful living,” the report said.

When the project was launched in 2018, translations were offered in only five languages. Its reach has continued to grow each year. Sermons are translated into an increasing number of languages and broadcast on various platforms, including digital platforms, FM radio, and Islamic television channels.

“These efforts demonstrate the Kingdom’s unwavering commitment to serving Islam and the global Muslim community,” the report said, adding that the initiative “exemplifies Saudi Arabia’s dedication to serving the Two Holy Mosques and their pilgrims. It further reflects the leadership’s commitment to promoting global peace and the values of tolerance and moderation.”

The report continued: “Having surpassed 200 million listeners in 2020, the project fulfills the Kingdom’s sacred responsibility of caring for the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors. By translating the Arafat sermon, they effectively share the message of these holy sites with the entire Muslim world.”