Manama: Looking at the office clock, Hana could barely contain her excitement to reach the henna salon where she had an appointment two hours later.
She felt lucky that she could secure the appointment during the festive days when salons are swarmed with calls from women desperate to be at their beautiful best for the family celebrations.
Like many women in Bahrain, Hana wanted to have the much-coveted henna on her forearms and hands at the last minute possible to ensure that it did not get spoiled, and lasted longer. And most women like her are ready to pay high prices for the privilege.
A local study showed that festivities made for the top money-making occasions for hair and henna salons.
With the number of licenced salons in Bahrain reaching 1,500, the total amount spent on henna decorations was more than 6.5 million Bahraini dinars (Dh62.8 million), the study, published in local daily Al Watan, said.
Mariam Al Shoomali, a salon owner, said that the rush during occasions such as Eid was “normal”.
“We deal with it by bringing in more women to apply henna designs for our customers, and I personally have 10 women during the auspicious occasions,” Al Shoomali said. “As for the rush, I deal with it in a strictly business-like manner — it is first come, first served.”
Mirvet said waiting at the salon has now become easier thanks to smartphones.
“I am usually made to wait for four hours until there is a woman to take care of me,” she said. “It used to annoy me and I saw it as a great sacrifice. However, now thanks to my smartphone, I while away the hours by surfing my various accounts and reading about my friends and followers. Time goes really quickly when I do that.”
Time and money do not mean much for beauty-conscious women in the Arabian Gulf.
On average, a Saudi woman spends close to 15,000 Saudi riyals (Dh14,680) a year on cosmetics, a figure that has prompted several European beauty companies to invest in the region, given that Saudi women make up 42 per cent of all women in the Gulf, according to Euromonitor.
“The fact that women spend money on henna, beauty and cosmetics is absolutely normal,” Noora, a college student, said. “Wherever you go across the world, women spend money on beauty products, hair styling, spa sessions … It is exactly like for men who are willing to travel to other cities and even to other countries just to watch a football match that they can very easily watch in the comfort of their homes or with their friends in a public place with commentary and multiple replays that they do not get in the stadium. Nobody seems to say that these men are wasting their time, money and energy on an event that lasts less than two hours and could be emotionally distressing if the favourite team loses.”
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