The life of a Gaza strip hairdresser isn't easy. Just a few weeks ago the Hamas government decided to ban male hairdressers from working in hair salons for women over claims that it didn't sit well with the spirit of Islam.
Four beauty salon owners from the strip recently requested to travel to the West Bank to take part in a professional hairdressers' association conference in Tulkarm. Yet even that short trip involves getting permits from the Civil Coordination and Liaison Administration in Gaza.
At first the IDF refused to allow them to pass through to the West Bank, claiming that "they don't fulfill the criteria as determined from time to time in accordance with the political and security situation". But after reexamination of the case, their trip to the conference, which is set to start Monday, was approved.
The salon owners, who were thrilled and excited to be going to the conference, gave a rare glimpse into the Gaza fashion industry which is forced to deal with various laws that make their lives and the lives of their customers, difficult.
Hard to keep up with latest fads - Gaza salon (Photo: AFP)
"I used to work in Tel Aviv and was up-to-date with every fad and innovation in the world of fashion," Amad Mugrabi an owner of a hair dressing academy in Gaza told Ynet. "The last time I left Gaza for vocational training was in 2004 and in today's reality it's harder for us to get the latest industry news since we can't take part in international conferences." Mugrabi added that his students want to receive vocational training in Jordan and Egypt.
Another hairdresser heading for the Tulkarm conference is Padua Baba who has been working in the beauty industry for over 25 years. Today she owns a bridal salon. "Taking part in the conference is very important to us. It's where we get to learn about new techniques which we then implement in our own salons."
Looking their bestPadua stressed that in spite of Gaza's restrictions and dress code; there is a great deal of awareness and knowledge of the beauty and cosmetics sector. "Beauty salons here are full of people. Women want to take care of their hair, have it colored and cut according to the latest fashion dictates."
Amad Mugrabi also stressed that not all Gazan women walk around wearing the hijab. "Even if a woman wears the hijab outside, she will visit beauty and hair salons so that she looks her best at home and at special events."
Gaza salon owners said that they are hoping to hold an international festival in Ramallah together with their West Bank colleagues in efforts to increase hair care awareness among the Palestinian public.
Gisha, the legal center for freedom of movement in the Gaza strip published a statement on the hairdressers' trip to the West Bank saying that: "We are happy that Ynet's appeal to the IDF led it to reconsider its decision to reject the hairdressers' request to leave the strip for vocational training in the West Bank, even though it came a bit late and caused the group to miss part of the program.
"We hope that in the future the army will allow Gaza residents access to vocational, cultural and educational opportunities – even when the request doesn't receive media coverage."
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