Having a bad hair day? Dubai-based hairstylist is the go-to man to fix your mane

Syrian hair stylist and Guinness World Record holder Dani Hiswani talks about his passion, his career and the 'Christmas tree' hairdo he fashioned for the record

By Manju Ramanan

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Published: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 6:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 16 Jan 2024, 12:33 PM

It was in 2004 that 19-year-old Dani Hiswani came to the UAE from Syria looking for better job prospects. With a degree in accounting and trained as a hairdresser, he knew only Arabic and no English when he arrived in Sharjah. His parents back home were in the business of beauty and cosmetics. “My father used to supply beauty products to salons and supermarkets and my mother is a beautician. So I grew up among these products,” says Dani. When he turned 15, his mother opened her salon in Syria and during summer holidays, he would either assist her or his father in his store.

How did the passion for hairstyling start? When Dani was seven years old, he saw his mother colouring her hair and offered to help. “I pulled a stool and helped her colour her hair and when she washed it, I felt the happy change as a kid when I saw the coloured hair. That is when I knew that I had a separate passion for hair and art.”

He later went to study accounting and also enrolled in a beauty school and learnt hairstyling and practised it for nearly four years in Syria before coming to Dubai. “I am passionate about hair. I feel the soul of the hair and treat it well. I never let the hair be treated badly,” says Dani.

Dani Hiswani with British singer-songwriter Leona Lewis
Dani Hiswani with British singer-songwriter Leona Lewis
Dani Hiswani with Pakistani acctress Mahira Khan
Dani Hiswani with Pakistani acctress Mahira Khan

After a stint with a salon and a scuffle with its errant manager, Dani soon took charge as the manager of the salon and became its owner’s favourite. At that time, there was a law in the UAE that male hairstylists could work only in the free zone or in a salon located in a five star hotel. Dani landed a job at a salon in Internet City and worked there for seven months.

“I was unhappy with the work there and decided to give accounting a chance and found a job. I worked there for three years where I dealt with payment, collection, recovery of cheques, budget approvals etc. I was very strict and sales people hardly saw me since I was in the head office and they were in the field. When they met me, they were amused. I was only 23.”

In 2008, I decided to go back to hairstyling. I applied to the Royal Meridien JBR Marina as a hairstylist. There, I learnt management skills from the General Manager. One of the hotel guests was a photographer who specialised in shooting hair and he introduced me to avant garde hairstyles. Then I met a make-up artist who invited me for a shoot, then someone with Fashion TV.

It was a stint that launched Dani's career to starry heights and took him down paths he had never imagined.

Dani Hiswani with Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone
Dani Hiswani with Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone

"After working there for eight years, I resigned and started collaborating with models, photographers, brands and artists for free to build my portfolio. The first Bollywood star I worked on was Karisma Kapoor. Then Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor Khan. All of them have good hair. Indian hair quality is very good and most hair extensions you see around source their hair from India. I got a lot of inquiries from Bollywood and other industries. The list includes Mohammed Ramadan, Paris Hilton, Irina Shayk, Leona Lewis and Tom Felton."

"In 2020, since we had time during the lockdown, I got time to plan my salon and opened it the following year. By then, I had got the approval to take part in the Guinness World Record. The last record for the tallest hairstyle in the world (achieved by a group of artists) was 2.16 metres and I broke it in 2022 with a Christmas tree hairstyle that was 2.9 metres high. The model was one of my clients who volunteered (to be part of the record) to sit through the ordeal.”

It was an endeavour that came with huge challenges, but Dani was undeterred. “I did the whole hairstyle myself on the model and used an electric ladder. Her shoulders had to stay steady or we would have lost but she managed well and I did the full hairstyle in three hours and won the record. My biggest challenge was to make it super light in weight and best looking in style."

Many a milestone has been crossed, including the Guinness Record. What next awaits Dani in his search for excellence in dressing up the tresses? "I now plan to open my salon, ‘Behind the Scenes,’ in Mumbai," he says. The boy from Syria, trained in Dubai is indeed going places!

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