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22 August, 2005

Bare-faced cheek

Bollywood heroes have them snipped off. So do most of the Indian cricket team - and the ladies love them for it.

Why, then, all the angst at jewellery boss Joy Alukkas's decree that male employees should shave off their moustaches?

“All 400 employees of Alukkas Jewellery are asked to remove their beard as early as possible. Apparently it is part of the top management decision but we don’t know the rationale of such a utopian idea,” said one employee who added that he values his moustache as a symbol of personal taste and dignity.

Personal taste, fair enough; dignity, definitely not.

Surely these employees realise that Mr Alukkas feels the cat's whiskers after shaving off his own tache, and just wants them to share in the joy?



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Obviously what is not taken into consideration here is that dignity is often associated with culture. If you look at India a little closer you will realize that the North is quite happy to shave off, but ever seen a clean shaved South Indian ?

In certain sub-cultures a moustache is considered a sign of manliness. In others its the same for a beard. Same goes for some religions - where its 'holy' to keep a beard.

-Clean Shaven-

22 August, 2005 15:26  
Blogger Parv said...

Apropos your comments, here's an interesting (albeit ridiculous) read.

How ironic that while a jeweler in Dubai demands his staff shave off their 'taches (for no stated reason), police in India are being paid to grow theirs...cos it commands more respect!

Oh the pains of masculinity.

22 August, 2005 15:28  
Blogger secretdubai said...

That is a great link! I suppose they go in and out of fashion all over the world - at the moment they're not very in fashion in western-style culture/fashions (at least if Hollywood and male models are anything to go by...)

22 August, 2005 16:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am surprised they still see it as a sign of manliness when some of the women can grow an impressive 'tach

22 August, 2005 16:42  
Blogger black feline said...

me think it's about cleanliness..under such scourging heat...its better to remove all hairs...incl mousta and u know where..the odour can be a big turn off...

22 August, 2005 17:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


22 August, 2005 17:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand what the big fuss is. The problem may be that there was no stated reason. Alukkas could have at least given some rationale.

However, business owners are free to dictate such things. If you don't like it, leave.

And SD, as others have pointed out, yes, some do associate it with dignity. Coming from Sudan, you will rarely see a fellow Sudanese man without one. However, I have decided to shave it off a couple years ago. Still do shave all.

This has resulted in several of my Sudanese friends to poke fun at me, calling me gay, etc. (yes, culturally gay is a bad thing, not that I care). The point is, they saw it as something horrid and unbecoming of a 'real' man. I eventually became the 'soft' Sudanese guy who shaves his facial hair ;)

Now now, for those who grow a moustache.. if you ever do shave it off, you will learn a lot of interesting things about your nose hair ;) For a long time I had no idea what was going on there.. now I realize there is MORE hair to take care of! Freaking hair.

22 August, 2005 18:14  
Blogger Once the Conman said...

I really think full beards are in. Sure, a moustache seems really weird. Imagining strands of hair hanging above your lips and nowehere else... eeeooooo.

22 August, 2005 18:23  
Blogger secretdubai said...

From a personal point, I greatly admire stubble and the Bedouin "shadow-beard". On men of certain ethnicities (Arabic mainly) a neatly-clipped beard can look attractive - though over stylised goatees and "edgy" shaving looks dodgy on anyone.

But I can't abide a moustache. On men of any nationality. (This is not including the moustache that would be the top part of a beard, obviously).

And any man just sporting a "chin tuft" - that horribly tuggable tuft of hair below the bottom lip, which some males grow while shaving everything else - deserves to be exiled from humanity.

22 August, 2005 18:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


SD, I think you will only that popular among high school kids and rock stars trying to do crazy things with their facial hair. I remember a lot of college kids used to have that kind of thing going -- well, it was a hippie town after all.

A plain ol' moustache with no beard looks very... umm.. village-like to me. You will see that trend in Texas as well. Moustaches are only seen around farms, etc. and as you move into the cities, they slowly disappear.

Any kind of facial hair style is fine, as long as it's clean. I have made it a rule to never ride in a taxi with a guy with a full beard though. I simply decided to boycott all those who let their beards go like that. Perhaps Cars and National, etc. should follow Alukkas policies.

22 August, 2005 19:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

al zubeir: your name suggests u are an arab and u have the effrontery to insult people with beards..which is considered both dignified and pious...

22 August, 2005 21:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from Sudan, which makes me an African. Now whether we are Arabs or not is a question you could write volumes on.

Wanna be pious, do it on your own time.

22 August, 2005 21:31  
Blogger Keef said...

A moustachioed Palestinian once told me that 'a kiss without moustache was like egg without salt'. Hmm. Don't get it myself.I have sported facial hair in the past - full beard, stupid pointless goatee, but never a muzzie on its own.

But what about sideburns?

22 August, 2005 21:47  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Mohamed - I don't think I've ever seen an Emirati guy with just a moustache, interestingly enough. Except for the sort of "soft moustaches" on teenage boys desperately trying to look mature (but resulting in opposite effect as the hair is so baby-soft!)

And from Sudan vs Arab debate - I used the term "Afrab" before as shorthand for African-Arab, see also "LebCan" for Lebanese-Canadian, "Subcon" for Subcontinent. Probably others too that I can't remember right now.

Also anonymous should note that it's (some) muslims that encourage beards, not some "arabs". Not all arabs are muslims, not all muslims are arabs. Etc etc. We expect the US to get confused on this, but we should at least get it straight!

And keefieboy - I'll so definitely take my egg without salt ;)

22 August, 2005 23:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im a guy.
When I first started working in Dubai I couldnt help but notice how come someone would come to work and not shave. Not that beards are unheard of, but I coudlnt understand the 10'o'clock shadow that some Emiratis proudly boast. I have now got used to it. But I want to hear from western women - do they think its attractive? Or being here, it has grown to their liking (alongwith the flashy cars and cash).

And Secret, there are quite a few famous Emirati with moustache. I dont wanna name names :{)

23 August, 2005 00:36  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Oh - of course! And in fact, the most prominent one I can think of is actually an exception to the rule: his quite suits him.

Shadow is nice on western and eastern men - too smooth skin suggests a metrosexual (=unmanly) obsession with "personal grooming". Ditto expensive and strongly scented balms, hair oil, etc. Men with a slight reggression to cavemanhood are infinitely preferable.

23 August, 2005 00:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a Western woman: Yes, as 'progressive' as I like to think I am, a slight shadow, dark mysterious eyes and heavy, naturally arched eyebrows are undeniably more attractive than pale-faced, blotchy skin, overgrown-looking little white boys. Bring on the dark, handsome men!

23 August, 2005 14:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be a lover of moustachioed men for sure ... but I saw Tom Selleck sans 'tache once and he looked rubbish. Glad to say, the status quo was restored when it grew back for Friends.

23 August, 2005 15:52  
Blogger secretdubai said...

western woman - is clearly waiting for you... ;)

23 August, 2005 17:27  
Blogger Mohamed Yaasar said...

The Alukkas here in Qatar is staffed by Mallus..A Mallu without a Moustache...Sacrilege....Name one Mallu Superstar without one...Facial hair is our Birthright...

28 August, 2005 11:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this case it's not a question of what's more appealing to others or what's the accepted norm in different cultures,rather it's more about inidividual liberty to do what one thinks is suitable for himself/herself.Tomorrow Alukkas may even ask its employees to dress up like clowns to entertain its customers.Fair enough, Mohamed Elzubeir might say..After all, business owners are free to dictate such things

28 August, 2005 13:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this case, it's not about what's more appealing or what's the accepted norm in different cultures, rather it's about individual liberty to choose what's suitable for himself/herself.Tomorrow Alukkas may ask its employees to dress up like clowns because the customers find it entertaining.Fair enough, Mohamed Elzubeir might say...After all, business owners are free to dictate such things

28 August, 2005 13:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, they are. If you don't like it, work elsewhere. No one is pointing a gun to your head saying you must shave this or wear that. I have worked in places in the US where we were not allowed to have facial hair.

It is ridiculous to think that you have the right to present yourself/image the way you like when you are representing someone else. If you are working for someone, you are reflecting their image and they have the absolute right to dictate how that image should be (right or wrong).

Risking more people getting upset over this, the same goes for those who insist that wearing the hijab is their inalienable right. No it's not. Want to wear it, wear it at your own time. But if my business decides that it is not acceptable then it is not acceptable at my business. Don't work there. Very simple.

29 August, 2005 11:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ME... Well now I know what needs to be done with regard to such "image conscious businesses". The answer is straight and simple BOYCOTT them. If A as a businessman/woman decides to sell G, it should simply be based on the merits of G, and not on an S who dreses up like a CLOWN (much against his own wishes) in order to sell G.
By the way who says whatever is done in US should be accepted elsewhere.
The only requirement for a salesman in terms of appearance I feel is to dress neat and clean and not shave off your head just because you are representing someone else. It's really sad how more and more youngsters are being sucked into market oriented (read MBA culture) ways of life.

29 August, 2005 23:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you can see, your idea of what is required of a salesperson's appearance is different from other people's..

I am not here arguing the merits of clean-shave policies, I am simply stating the obvious. If you don't like it, leave. If you want to make a statement as a customer, boycott them -- as you have suggested. However, you have no right to tell Alukkas or whoever else what is right for his business.

Everyone's got different tastes. I for one, would rather buy from a clean-shaven person than a bearded one. In fact, I almost never deal with full bearded people (the long beard type). It's my choice.

30 August, 2005 17:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! This wuz so interesting I decided ta jump in. Read halfway down da comments an then skipped to the last few. Heahz ma 2 cents, then.

First off, who in heck iz ol Joy Allukas to tell his staff whether to keep their whiskers or not!! Him being a Malayalee hisself!! (In case sum of ya didn't get that "Mallu" honoriffic a few posts up.) Business owner? So what! Don't the guy believe in human dignity and personal choice? If he wants his sales ppl ta look presentable, he should just give em some guidelines on beard and moustache grooming. This heahz da Middle East an for lotsa folks it's a religious requirement (not strictly, I admit).

Any person who values his employees should have the common sense to respect their personal choices in such matters. A simple directive to look neat and presentable should suffice. (We aint livin under da Taliban, after all.) When you attempt to dictate to others on what should be their personal matter alone, you are taking away their dignity....and that I think is the context in which the word dignity first came up in this discussion.

Point two (here we are folks): Yes it's true. Most of em are "Mallus". And guess what. A Malayalee without a moustache? Heaven help us! What would happen to his manhood (unless he wuz already contemplating a sex-change)? Listen ppl, ya won't hafta wait too long ta hear Mr Allukkas backtrack real fast on this one.

(P.S. I had one myself last month an I tink da chickas just loved it. Problem wuz it been da salt'n'pepper variety an add to dat the chickas in question wuz a third my age....I figured a close shave would greatly help ma marriage....)

Sincerely, Clean shaven Malayalee*

(*alwayz been one ta defy convention, newayz....)

Quote: "Meesha illengil aan allathray...." *splish!*

(Visiting preacher arguing against Malayalee dependence on moustaches for male identity. Translation: If you don't have a moustache you're not a man....huh!).

12 September, 2005 12:37  

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