JEDDAH: The rising number of contagious diseases, such as hepatitis and Aids, has forced many customers to bring their own haircutting equipment to Jeddah's salons. The special haircut bags that customers carry contain combs, shaving equipment, electronic razors and other grooming apparatus.
Thamer Al-Saiari, a 25-year-old Saudi, said that the main reason behind him buying a haircut bag is a fear of catching AIDS and other contagious diseases. "It is scary to know that someone could suffer for the rest of his life because of the negligence and mistake of a barber. The haircut bag is a precaution to be on the safe side," he said.
"I know at least three of my friends who now have liver disease. They believe they caught the illness at hair salons," said Turki, a 22-year-old Saudi. "There is a lack of adherence to health and safety rules at most salons. However, there are a few places in Jeddah that follow strict health and safety measures. Barbers should not serve customers without gloves. Now if you go to all barber shops, I bet 95 percent of them do not wear them," he added.
What Turki mentions may perhaps be true. In a previous report, Dr. Qassim Al-Qasabi, chief executive officer at
Waleed Al-Tuwaie said he asks his barber to clean his equipment in front of him. "Before he combs my hair he makes sure it is clean and before he shaves I make sure he has sterilized the blade with a flame in front of me. That will, in my opinion, reduce the risk of catching anything," he said.
Al-Qasmi Hasan, a Moroccan barber, said there has been a rise in the number of people bringing their own haircutting equipment. "There is more awareness nowadays about liver diseases and AIDS because newspapers keep writing about them. The municipality obliges us to use disposable razors to prevent diseases from spreading," he said. "Many barbers think it's great that customers leave their haircutting bags inside their shops as this ensures customers return," he added.
Muhammad Zaher, a barber, said haircutting equipment has been instrumental in the spread of hepatitis and other liver diseases. "We're more concerned about our safety than our customers are concerned about theirs," he said, adding that only a few barbers wear gloves and most clean their equipment.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80 percent of hepatitis patients do not take serious steps to treat their condition until it becomes chronic, with 20 percent of them developing cirrhosis.