Dh1,500 haircut: Meet the Dubai hairstylist who grooms Bollywood actors, cricket stars

The hairstylist has worked with top stars like Hrithik Roshan and Sanjay Dutt, making sure they look perfect

By Usman Malik

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Published: Sat 1 Jun 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 1 Jun 2024, 9:57 PM

Meet Danish Hanif, a UAE-based hairstylist, who grooms A-list Bollywood actors and top Indian cricket stars whenever they come to Dubai.

“For regular clients, I charge Dh150 for a haircut, but appointments need to be scheduled in advance. For business and VIP clients in Dubai, I charge up to Dh1,500 for a haircut. I can't disclose, however, the VVIP clients’ identities,” Hanif told Khaleej Times. “Among South Asian expat hairstylists, I am known for charging the highest rates for haircuts."

Hanif has worked with top stars like Hrithik Roshan and Sanjay Dutt, making sure they look perfect. But behind all the fame and glamour, his story is all about working hard, never giving up, and always trying to be the best.

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The expat, who hails from the Indian capital city of New Delhi, said his father was his initial source of inspiration. "My father was a hairstylist, so I developed this interest by observing him," he said.

His journey into the world of hairstyling started with formal education under the guidance of Javed Habib, a renowned figure in Delhi's hairstyling scene.

"I started by learning from Javed Habib and completed a hairstyling course there (at his academy)," he said, highlighting the importance of foundational training in shaping his career path.

Driven by his ambition to excel in the hairstyling industry, Hanif embarked on a quest to learn from the best in India.

"To achieve greatness in this field was my dream. At that time, I got to know about Aalim Hakim, a renowned hairstylist who caters to Bollywood stars in India. I moved from New Delhi to Mumbai in 2007 and started working with Hakim."

He devoted nearly 11 years to honing his craft under Hakim's guidance which is when he encountered some of Bollywood's most prominent figures.

First haircut with Hrithik Roshan

Hanif’s first experience in the Indian entertainment industry involved styling Bollywood heartthrob Hrithik Roshan during the filming of his movie Guzaarish, marking the beginning of his journey into the realm of celebrity hairstyling.

In 2010, when Hakim opened a salon in Dubai, Hanif joined his team and catered to several celebrities. Later, in 2016, he started his own salon in Dubai's Karama.

From Dh2,500 to Dh45,000 per month

"My initial salary in Dubai was Dh2,500," Hanif shared, "But now, with the grace of God, I'm earning up to Dh45,000 in profit per month."

The Sharjah resident, who is now a father of two, oversees a team of approximately 28 employees across his four salons. He noted some of the hairstylists at his salon are earning more than Dh5,000 per month.

First celebrity client in Dubai

Hanif still cuts hair at his salon in the Ramee Royal Hotel in Dubai. "When I started working in Dubai, my first celebrity client was Pakistani singer Atif Aslam. Since then, I've styled many other celebrities, including Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, as well as South actor Nivin Pauly and Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan.”

“Indian cricket stars often visit me for hairstyling when they're in Dubai. Some of my clients include Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, KL Rahul, Virender Sehwag, Shubman Gill, among others,” he added.

When Bollywood celebrities come to Dubai for film shoots, many of them rely on Hanif. Some visit his salon for haircuts, too.

‘Not an easy job’

Hanif shared: "It's not an easy job. Especially during shoots, I need to maintain the actors’ look exactly as they want it. What you see in a four to five-minute clip on screen might take a whole day to shoot. So, keeping their hairstyle and look consistent throughout the day is a big task, and that's what I'm paid for.”

“During film shoots in Dubai, my rates differ. I charge Dh4,500 for eight hours of hairstyling work per day,” he added.

In addition to styling celebrities, Hanif also caters to clients from the corporate world in the UAE, including CEOs and business owners.

‘Sanjay Dutt an easy-going star’

Hanif also shared some insights about the celebrities he groomed. Talking about Bollywood legend Sanjay Dutt, who holds a UAE Golden Visa, he said: “I was nervous when I first styled his hair. He's a living legend with a distinct aura, which initially overwhelmed me".

“However, upon meeting him, I discovered his kind-hearted and friendly nature. Despite working with numerous celebrities, I found Sanjay Dutt to be particularly easy-going, making me feel comfortable while styling his hair.”

Collab with Arjun Kapoor

The hairstylist also spent nearly three years working closely with Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor while he was shooting his films.

"I accompanied him to the US and worked with him on almost three of his films. I was his hairstylist throughout that period, making it the longest collaboration I've had with any star."

Hanif added that whenever Kapoor visits Dubai, he contacts him, and he makes sure to meet him promptly.

Next cut

Hanif said: “I aspire to work with icons like Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, and Brad Pitt, and I remain hopeful that I'll have the opportunity to style their hair. Dubai, being a land of opportunities, fills me with optimism that I'll be able to realise this dream here."

“Since arriving in Dubai, I've recognised it as a place where I can expand my career and reach new heights. The UAE has played a significant role in my success, providing a positive and conducive environment for growth and development,” he added.

He also emphasised the importance of hairstylists moving beyond traditional barber shop concepts. He stressed the necessity for extensive education and proper courses to excel in the field, highlighting the significance of hard work and consistency.

Looking ahead, Hanif wants to launch his own hair cosmetics brand and establish a training institute in Dubai to mentor aspiring stylists. He's already laying the groundwork for these ventures, with hopes that the institute will be operational in the near future.


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