Dubai: Afzal was wearing a tight T-shirt and proudly displaying a “tribal” tattoo on his bulging upper biceps in front of the Body Art stall in Ibn Battuta Mall.

“I want to see how it looks before I go in for a permanent one,” said the British expatriate, who lives in Dubai. He said he had his girlfriend’s name in Arabic tattooed permanently on his chest.

“I got a friend to write it in Arabic and got the tattoo done in London,” he said. “Do you want to see it?” he asked.

When Nita, a Lebanese woman, got an air-brush tattoo of a Buddha on her right shoulder, a curious crowd of Arab women gathered around her and Mary Ann Jordan, the Filipina tattooist.