|Increasing Interest in Tattoos, Body Piercing Fueling Underground Business
Hasan Hatrash, Arab News
|JEDDAH, 10 May 2008 — Young Saudi men and women are increasingly getting their bodies tattooed and pierced, something that is fueling a growth in underground tattooist and body piercers, who are often not only unhygienic but also expensive. Tattooists and body piercers that operate in Jeddah are generally Filipinos, who work from their homes and advertise their services by word-of-mouth.Arab woman displays her tattoo which is frowned upon in Islam
Matar, a young Saudi who works for an advertising agency, had a large, permanent tattoo done on his back three years ago. “I heard about a tattooist from one of my Filipino work colleagues, who told me that he knew a professional,” he said.
Matar said he made an appointment with the tattooist and visited him at home. “The man had a mini clinic-like section at his home that contained a dentist chair, professional tattooing equipment and catalogs full of designs,” he said.
He added that the man told him that he had worked in a tattoo shop in the US before coming to the Kingdom. Matar said he was initially skeptical, however, after seeing how clean the place and equipment were, he felt relaxed.
After choosing a suitable design, Matar underwent a painful nonstop eight-hour process of having the tattoo placed on the upper side of his back at a cost of SR2,000. He added that smaller tattoos cost around SR500 and that he had a large tattoo done, as he liked it.
A similar tattoo would cost at least 70 percent less in other countries, Matar said, adding that tattoos are expensive in the Kingdom, because tattooist are few and far between.
However, the Kingdom’s religious scholars do not approve of the practice. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Amri, imam of Al-Rajih Mosque in Jeddah, said tattoos are forbidden in Islam and considered sinful. He added that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) clearly stated that tattoos are forbidden as they are an attempt to change Allah’s creation.
Arab News accompanied a Saudi girl, who asked her name not be published, to the home of a Filipina body piercer in the Al-Faisaliah district of the city.
In a dingy apartment where the smell of food mixed with the scent of medicine, the woman, who works as a nurse at a nearby hospital, had sectioned off a room for body piercing.
The woman said she was an expert and cared about hygiene. “I receive many customers who mostly get their belly buttons pierced,” she said, adding that the one-minute procedure costs around SR300. Regular ear, nose and lip piercing costs from SR100 to SR200 she said, adding that business is good.
The Saudi girl said that she had her belly button pierced by the same lady and that she initially heard about her from her friends.
She added that there are many body piercers in Jeddah and that the majority are unprofessional.
She added that the underground business thrives as hospitals refuse to body pierce.
Dr. Izzat Fahmi, a general practitioner at Al-Hadeel clinic, said that the process of piercing and getting tattoos could serve as a means of transmitting Hepatitis B and C. He added that there is also a risk of people getting infected.
“Such procedures need to be done in a clean place with extra-sanitized equipment, because both tattooing and piercing is done with needles, which can transmit viruses,” he added.