Muscat: This is not a usual Mehel-e-Halaqat (Barber shop).
Tucked in the tranquil Qurum Heights of Muscat, its clients are some of the top legislators and royal family members of the Sultanate.
For Sreejith, whose uncle T. Shashi Kumar (currently in India on break) started the shop some 25 years ago, the job of shaving or cutting powerful men’s hair is “pretty normal.”
“They’re just like any other customer,” Sreejith told the Times of Oman (TOO), describing busy Saturdays when the officials pour in groups. “There is no pomp and show. No security. No official vehicle... They come in private cars and get their hair dressed here,” he said.
For over two decades, Kumar’s shop has been the go-to hairdresser for members of the royal family.
Quite often the Sports Minister, officials from the Diwan Royal Court, Commerce Minister and Interior Minister drop in to get their beards trimmed, head massaged or hair cut.
“My uncle said the current leaders used to come here as children decades ago. With time they grew up and developed loyalty for us. That’s the reason most of them come here only. They connect and identify with this place,” said Sreejith, who is running the shop in absence of his uncle.
Typically, politics or cricket-centred gossip runs rife at saloons and barber shops in south Asia and Europe.
Asked if the same happens in Oman as well, Sreejith said: “With the royal family customers, very little actually... But they know what’s happening in our India. A week ago, while getting his beard trimmed, a minister offered condolences for the Kerala (a south Indian state) fire victims. We felt good.”
The barber shop is a rage among top politicians and royal family members. Sometime back it also won an award for proper hygiene and best service to clients.
“We were awarded by Abdullah Abbas (then Chairman of the Muscat Municipality and a frequent costumer),” said K Suresh, a senior stylist and a father of two.
Normally, the politicians make a call and order for a slot and accordingly the clients are served, Suresh stated.
“They live a simple life, wear normal dresses. It’s so relaxing. I can imagine the situation if a hairdresser is serving a top politician of any other country. But Oman is different,” he added.
Mohsin Naumani, a middle rung official working at the Muscat Municipality, has been coming here for three years.
“Because of the cleanliness and the skill,” he told TOO.
“I often see many VIPs, including Interior and Justice Ministry officials, coming to his saloon. Like me they are also fond of this shop,” he said.
On Eid days, the shop gets crowded. All royal family members want to be taken care of. But the hairdressers said they don’t prioritise one client over the other. “Whosoever books a slot first gets served first,” Suresh said, adding “Our rates are the same for everyone. Be it a normal Omani, an expat worker or a royal family member.”
Young people, he said, prefer a spiky hair style. “Older ones are content with short hair and a small beard. Sometime they bring their own blades, knives and scissors. The older men prefer Old Spice products,” he smiled.
Suresh said he wants his children to study and achieve big in life and that he shares the stories with his family whenever an Omani politician or a royal family member visits him.
“They are rich and powerful people yet they’re calm and modest. That’s the beauty of Omani society,” he said.