I have discovered that the Arab states have many customs which are different from those in America. Not only that, but the customs can vary from one Arab state to another. This post will focus on distinctions in grooming.
For example, in Saudi Arabia it is customary for women to remove facial and body hair. The hair removal process can be done by waxing, shaving, laser or a traditional method referred to as hawala. In the traditional method, a woman (usually from an African country) will come to the home and remove facial, arm, legs and other hair from the body. It is not a pain-free process at all but many Saudi women will endure this procedure for the smooth hairless look which results. On the other hand, it is considered against Islam in Saudi for women to pluck their eyebrows; the eyebrows should be left in their natural state. Yet I can personally attest from having been in many salons with Saudi women that many Saudi women do elect to have their eyebrows plucked.
By comparison, plucking of the eyebrows is a routine matter in Syria and women who do not pluck their eyebrows would be viewed as slovenly. In Syria women will get together and pluck each other’s eyebrows over coffee. The men will have their eyebrows plucked too when they go to the barber.
In Saudi many men will choose to either have a beard, goatee or what I will call the ‘ghost shadow’ of facial hair. Yet in Syria, many men will chose to remove facial hair with a depilatory cream at least once a month.
Both Saudi men and women may prefer to apply henna to the hair. And in the case of the man, he may wish to have henna applied to his beard. The woman will have her henna applied either in a salon or the privacy of her home. The man would usually have his applied at a barber. Some men may view this procedure as a private matter and will visit barber shops which have private booths with closed doors.
A Saudi man may elect to shave his private areas. He may do this prior to performing umrah or hajj. Some men also shave as such for their wedding or choose to routinely keep himself shaved if he has more than one wife. It is viewed as an extra measure of cleanliness. Many women may follow the same practice too. The practice is widely followed by many women in the Arab states.
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