Dubai's Dh5 barbershops: How residents cut costs with rise of affordable salons

Previously found only in certain areas, they have now mushroomed in almost every busy corner in Karama, Al Barsha, Al Quasis, Al Nahda and Deira


Angel Tesorero

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

KT Photos: Angel Tesorero
KT Photos: Angel Tesorero

Published: Fri 15 Mar 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 17 Mar 2024, 4:00 PM

It was past midnight and Ahmed, a delivery rider, just finished his work of sending orders and food parcels to several homes across Dubai. But before heading home, he decided to pass by the next door barbershop that offers an affordable Dh5 service for a shave or haircut.

While prices of goods and services have gone up these Dh5 barbershops have defied inflation and are cropping up almost everywhere in busy communities and neighbourhoods across Dubai.

More than 10 years ago, back in early 2010, one could only find Dh5 gents salons in certain areas in International City, Sonapur or Al Quoz. But now, they have mushroomed in almost every busy corner in Karama, Al Barsha, Al Quasis, Al Nahda and Deira.

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

They have remained affordable like the Dh1 abra ride on Dubai Creek or the Dh1 karak chai from your favourite hole-in-the-wall cafeteria (although some are now charging a cuppa from Dh1.50 to Dh2). There is not even a decent Dh5 shawarma now but you can still get good grooming for just Dh5.

Teeming with customers

When Ahmed entered the barbershop in Al Barsha, it was teeming with customers getting a haircut or beard trimming. The lights inside were as bright as the midday sun and the brightly-coloured façade of the barbershop is covered in big bold letters screaming Dh5, Dh5, Dh5.

Ahmed asked a young Pakistani barber to shave his beard and he got a nice deal and service. “The price of a branded double-bladed disposable razor is almost Dh5 apiece and you still need to buy a shaving cream. Here, you just sit back, relax, and the barber will do all the work for you. You can even enjoy a few relaxing tap and rubbing on the shoulder afterwards from the barber,” he told Khaleej Times.

“Of course, our service is not as detailed and meticulous as the medium or high-end ones but we get the job done,” noted Mohd Raza, 41, a Pakistani businessman who owns a chain of Dh5 barbershops across Dubai.

“All basic services such as haircut, shaving and head massage are priced at Dh5. But we also offer hair colouring and other services from Dh10 to Dh20, depending on the product brand the customer would like,” he added.

Cut above the rest

Undeniably, the price factor has made the Dh5 barbershop a cut above the rest, Raza said with a sense of pride, noting they are not only serving blue-collar workers, labourers or delivery riders but also white-collar employees and professionals who are looking for more bang for their buck.

“There is no classical music played on the background or free tea and biscuits but we pamper our customers for a price of penny,” he added, and also assured cleanliness and adherence to sanitary guidelines are strictly observed as municipal inspectors visit them regularly.

Raza entered the business with big financial support from his cousin back in July 2021, when he opened his first Dh5 barbershop in Deira. Now, he has branches in Al Nahda, Al Quoz, Al Quasis and Al Barsha. Some shops are open until after 2am.

He pays his barbers a monthly salary of around Dh1,700 but the staff earn more from the tips they get from satisfied customers.

Clear-cut roles

Barbers are nifty and they work fast in clockwork fashion. The barbershop is a like well-defined assembly line where people work in mass production. Barbers get the job done, quick and cheap. They can do haircut or shaving in about five minutes. Sometimes, they do two services simultaneously – like when they are waiting for the hair-colour of one customer to set in, they are already prepping another customer for a quick shave.

Ali Raza, 24, a Pakistani barber, who works at the newly-opened Noor AlAin Gents Salon behind Mall of Emirates, said he learned the trade back home in Islamabad when he was 17 years old. On an average, he gets 10 to 15 customers daily, doing at least two services (haircut, shaving and sometimes facial). He counts among his loyal customers Filipinos, Indians, Pakistanis and some Russians and Arabs.

Ali said the Dh5 barbershops have become popular “simply because they're cheap.” But he also reminded customers not to forget to bring dirhams as all Dh5 barbershops does not accept credit cards and only deal in cash.


More news from UAE