(ND, June 23, 2014)
Just over a week ago, I returned from a tour around the Arabian Gulf visiting Abu Dhabi & Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Jeddah & Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. After settling back in the States, it excites me to share this experience. Kérastase Middle East had brought me there to share knowledge & inspire hairdressers using our Couture Styling Products. Having Middle Eastern roots, this trip truly was equally as inspiring for me too… Here is my attempt to keep it brief on some of the highlights!
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Abu Dhabi & Dubai
Pristine luxury. Perfected landscaping. Innovative architecture. These are just some of the few things that pop into my head when I now think of the United Arab Emirates. From the mosaics driving along the side of the motor ways in Abu Dhabi to the magnificent Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the attention to detail was as impressive as historical fine art. Speaking of historical…the NEWNESS in EVERYTHING was an experience of it’s own. And then there’s the largest building in the world (Burj Khalifa) next to the largest mall in the world (Dubai Mall) which holds the largest single tank aquarium in the world… The best part about it all- the diversity in people from around the world made Dubai feel like the center of the world, and I loved minute of it!
There were 2 different types of salons in the UAE, the “expatriate” & the “arabic” salons. The expats seemed to share a similar esthetic as we do in the states- inspired by Western & European fashion, where hair can classically simple & elegant yet also be perfectly undone & tussled. The Arabic hairdressers are what I call “hair sculptors” (again, their attention to detail is impeccable), and pride themselves on some incredibly complicated hairdressing. So even though my father is from the Middle East and I grew up seeing hair done like so going to weddings and such, I always have focused on classic hairdressing or a fashion/”la Mode” lifestyle for my personal and professional hairdressing esthetic. But there’s been a shift, how do I create a fusion? The best of both worlds? Wearable, fashionable hair with great attention to detail & art?
KINGDOM Of SAUDI ARABIA
Jeddah & Riyadh
Traditionally monarchical. Modest and respected. I will be the first to admit there was an initial culture shock for me, so as I put on my abaya (a black robe-like garment) I was excited to fit in. But woman are not required to cover their hair, which I had assumed before, but still woman veil more than not. The dryness in the desert air, the sandy rawness to the streets, the arabian architecture, the massive walls gating the living compounds, the camaraderie amongst women, the respective separation of men & women in public, the committed devotion toward religion. KSA is its’ own experience, and I’m whole heartedly grateful to have experienced first hand.
Because KSA’s social society is enforced by Islamic law, vanity is not permitted…which includes hairdressing & salons, so rare to see a free standing hair salon. What they do have, which I found to be so fascinating and exciting, are women’s centers. A mini-mall, if you would, with cafés, shopping, salons, spas, courtyards… A place where woman can be free, take off her veil & abaya and spend hours. It was so inspiring to see such a community space…now I want to open a women’s center!! Digressing… Overall both in Jeddah & Riyadh, the hairdressers were absolutely wonderful and grateful to have education brought to KSA. Women celebrating women, celebrating beauty.
At the last event in Riyadh, I began to tear up in front of the group. Tears of joy. Tears coming from a humbled place in my heart. And to lighten it up a little, happy tears from everyone getting a laugh with my Arabic speaking skills!
My sincerest gratitude to my host & my friend, Pamela Mansour, for making this experience exceptional & a memory of a lifetime.
*click on photos to enlarge